NTRA Will Address Panel's Concerns on IBM Deal

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors expects to have more details of its venture with IBM Global Services ironed out by late September, but not before it addresses the concerns and recommendations of an advisory committee formed earlier this year at the request of racing associations in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The committee issued a draft report that was discussed by the NTRA board Thursday during a four-hour meeting in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Details on the discussion were scarce, but the committee reportedly has made suggestions on how the NTRA should handle its deal with IBM.

One of IBM's recommendations is that the NTRA, through a subsidiary,
purchase or create its own totalizator function. That apparently doesn't
sit well with all members of the Thoroughbred industry.

"(The committee) is very sensitive to the fact this is a preliminary
discussion draft," NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said after the board
meeting. "They have concerns that are addressable, and we've kept an open mind about their concerns."

Smith and Maryland Jockey Club president Joe De Francis, spokesman for the advisory committee, are expected to further discuss the matter in the coming weeks. The NTRA board will next meet Sept. 26 in conjunction with the American Horse Council convention. Smith said the NTRA expects to have a response by that time.

Penn National Gaming president Bill Bork, an NTRA board member from the
Mid-Atlantic, said Thursday he couldn't comment on the advisory committee report or other details of the meeting until he speaks to associations he represents in the region.

In other business, the NTRA board approved in principle the terms of a
joint operating and licensing agreement with Breeders' Cup Ltd. The deal is expected to be finalized by the Sept. 26 meeting, Smith said.

Pending approval of the Breeders' Cup agreement, the NTRA board would be
expanded from 11 members to 15. Two of the new seats would be occupied by Thoroughbred Racing Associations racetracks, and the other two by Breeders' Cup appointees who would represents owners and horsemen.

The board also approved the formation of federal and non-federal political action committees, and an increase in spending in that area. Smith said the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act could come up for consideration again by mid-September.

During an Aug. 5 meeting in Minnesota, the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said it would make a proposal to the NTRA whereby horsemen's groups, in some cases, would get a share of racetrack cooperative advertising revenues. Smith said the matter wouldn't be hashed out in the press.