Owners Hear Plans For National Racing License

The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, which is set to embark ona plan to introduce new owners to the game, was briefed Friday morning onsomething dear to the hearts of owners-a national racing license that wouldcut a lot of red tape.

Robin Traywick Williams, who chairs the Virginia Racing Commission, said an application form should be available online by the fourth quarter of this year, and the first licenses could be issued in early 2001. Williams spoke during TOBA's annual meeting of the membership in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. A "National Racing Commission" will oversee the licensing process, which has been spearheaded by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The licensing office will be located in Lexington. Williams said organizers had planned to discuss the hiring of an executive director during a Friday committee meeting.

It was no surprise TOBA members gave Williams a round of applause after her presentation. Licensing in each state, and the associated fees, long have been a bone of contention in the industry, but previous efforts to
streamline the process haven't progressed. Currently, five states--Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, and West Virginia-=have passed national licensing legislation. By next summer, nine or 10 more are expected to have laws in place or at least recognize the license.

A three-year owner's license is expected to cost about $50. "In most
states, you'll still have to pay a licensing fee," Williams said, "but it actually will become a user's fee. States have come to depend on the revenue."

In other business at the TOBA annual meeting:
--President Dan Metzger said the organization is under budget by $24,000
through the end of July, and has about $200,000 in cash reserves, up from $135,000 at this time last year. Membership has climbed back up to about 3,000, he said. "We're a little disappointed in the overall (membership) numbers," Metzger said. "We must build on our membership."
Metzger said a membership project carried out by the consulting group MGI last year didn't produce the desired results. TOBA has since joined with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Keeneland on TheGreatestGame.com, which is designed to introduce new owners the sport.

--Stuart Janney III again will serve as chairman of TOBA, and the following people were elected to the board: Reynolds Bell, Benny Bell Williams, G. Watts Humphrey, John Phillips, Nick Nicholson, Russell Jones, Carl Pollard, Duncan Taylor, Ric Waldman, Barry Schwartz, and Alan Lavin. New to the American Graded Stakes Committee are Schwartz, who replaces Cothran (Cot) Campbell, and Sean Greely, who replaces Mike Dempsey as a racing secretary representative.

--TOBA's stallion season auction, traditionally held in conjunction with
the National Awards Dinner in September, has been moved to Dec. 2. It will be held along with the NTRA Charities auction.