NTRA commissioner Tim Smith issued statement concerning possible track member defections.

NTRA commissioner Tim Smith issued statement concerning possible track member defections.

Skip Dickstein

Smith, Others Reaffirm Commitment to NTRA's Goals

In response to 22 racetracks announcing their intention to withdraw from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, commissioner Tim Smith and a number of board members issued a statement reaffirming their commitment to the organization and its goals.

The statement that follows was signed by Smith, Robert Clay of Three Chimneys Farm, Terry Meyocks of the New York Racing Association, Ogden Mills Phipps of The Jockey Club, Alan Foreman of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Tom Meeker of Churchill Downs, and Bill Walmsley of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

"We are disappointed that certain members have indicated their intentions to withdraw from the NTRA. Many others including ourselves - representing a number of significant racetracks, horsemen's associations, breeders and other stakeholders in the industry - remain firmly committed to the NTRA, its goals and its importance for the industry."

"We take considerable pride in the accomplishments of the NTRA and its members in less than three years, including significantly increased exposure for racing on national television, the creation of a $30 million co-op advertising program, the steady increase in public interest in our sport over the last two years, the strengthening of our industry's resources and capabilities in Washington, the consolidation with the Breeders' Cup and the tackling of important issues like improved drug testing, reduced economic regulation, enhanced new owner programs and more efficient use of technology."

"We hope that some or all of the racetrack members indicating their intentions to withdraw will reconsider their decisions and we will explore all potential avenues for reasonable compromise. We note their stated desire to work with others in the industry to promote and grow our sport and business. We will redouble our current efforts to have a constructive dialogue on common objectives and also on the issues of concern to these members and others."

"We also want to assure our other members and supporters that we will not waver from our central purpose and mission: to improve overall economic conditions in horseracing and related industries. It is too worthy a goal and too important for the future growth and survival of these interrelated businesses to return to the industry's regrettable previous history of parochialism and divisiveness."

In addition to that statement, the NTRA released the following individual statements:

"The Breeders' Cup continues to support the NTRA fully and enthusiastically and will continue to do so whether or not the listed racetracks withdraw from the association. The benefits of maximum feasible industry consolidation - whether approaching TV networks, national sponsors, new customers, the U.S. Congress or the international marketplace - have already been amply demonstrated."--D.G. Van Clief Jr., President, Breeders' Cup Limited

"It's particularly unfortunate that this action is being taken when we are on the verge of the passage of federal legislation that will benefit the entire industry, thanks in large part to the work of Tim Smith, Greg Avioli and the NTRA. This is a prime example of how we can accomplish more by working together than separately." --Jay Hickey, President, American Horse Council

"Churchill Downs is committed to the NTRA - we believe it's just as valid today as the day the organization was born. It's my personal view that over the course of time the current problems will be worked out, primarily because it's the right thing to do for the industry."--Tom Meeker, President and CEO, Churchill Downs Incorporated