NTRA Makes Gains on Auction Contributions

A pledge to spend money raised through the Thoroughbred auction process on political action endeavors apparently has led to an increase in contributions to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. It could be timely given the fact the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act could come up for consideration in Washington, D.C., in late September.

"There was a huge improvement over last year" at the Keeneland July yearling sale in terms of contributions from buyers and consignors, said Chip Tuttle, vice president of communications for the NTRA. "We expect to get 80% of available dollars, or $450,000 from that one sale."

In 1999, the NTRA raised $1.3 million in voluntary donations from the auction process. This year, the budgeted amount was $3.1 million, but based on interest shown thus far, that number has been bumped up to $3.7 million.

Under a plan adopted last fall upon the recommendation of a funding advisory committee, Keeneland and the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association contribute 0.25% of gross sales, and buyers and consignors 0.25% of their respective purchases and sales on a voluntary basis. Earlier this year, the NTRA announced that the money would be spent to beef up racing's legislative presence in Washington, D.C., and key state capitals.

"The buyers responded a great deal because of our earmarking their contributions to political action," Tuttle said.

Barretts, Fasig-Tipton Co., Ocala Breeders' Sales Co., and the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association contribute one-tenth of 1% of gross sales. (Fasig-Tipton and OBS will match sellers on the 0.25%, depending on which figure is greater.) The 0.10% plan was in effect for all participating sale companies before the funding advisory committee made its recommendation.

Tom Ventura, director of sales for OBS, said the company handles the paperwork for consignors who choose to donate to the NTRA. The numbers aren't in from the OBS August select yearling sale, but indications are participation increased this year.

"It's still a learning curve for everybody," Ventura said. "We're trying to see some tangible results. There are some positive things that have happened."

At Barretts, buyers and sellers direct the company to contribute to the NTRA on their behalf. Gerald McMahon, president and general manager at Barretts, said buyers may end up contributing at a higher level this year given the company's dispersal of 505 Farms stock this summer.
Ralph Vacca, general manager of the WTBA, said the company provides the NTRA with lists of its buyers and consignors. As for the WTBA's contribution, Vacca said: "We were on board from the beginning, and will continue to do so."

Last year at Keeneland, the 11-day September yearling sale produced gross sales of $233 million. Based on that number, the NTRA would generate about $1.3 million from the sale company, buyers, and consignors given only 75% of the available money. This year's September yearling sale will span 13 days. By Tom LaMarra