Racetracks in the Mid-Atlantic region, having failed to win concessions from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors, have no intention of rejoining the NTRA any time soon. But the NTRA insists the negotiations will continue.
"I'm disappointed," Penn National Gaming president Bill Bork said. "What it boiled down to was this: We asked them, 'Don't compete with us.' The board rejected that, and unless we can solve that issue, we're out."
Twelve tracks in the Mid-Atlantic left the NTRA in late October, and negotiations between the parties continued up to the NTRA board of directors meeting Feb. 15-16 in South Florida. The Mid-Atlantic tracks requested a governance change to protect their racetrack interests, and again asked that the NTRA not compete with its dues-paying members through subsidiaries such as NTRA Services, which operates a wagering hub in Oregon.
Mid-Atlantic officials wanted a 6-1 vote among the seven racetrack representatives on the NTRA board for a racetrack-related measure to pass. If two of the seven track representatives voted no, a measure would fail. Bork said that on all other issues, the regular majority vote of the full board would have applied.
NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said the Mid-Atlantic seat on the NTRA board would remain open until March 31. If a sufficient number of the 12 tracks fail to rejoin, it will become an at-large racetrack seat.
"Their proposal wasn't agreeable to the board, but we've been directed to keep the lines of communication open," Smith said.
Bork said the tracks will stand by their "all for one, and one for all" position. The defectors are Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, both operated by the Maryland Jockey Club; Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority; Charles Town Races and Penn National Race Course, operated by Penn National Gaming; and Atlantic City Race Course, Colonial Downs, Delaware Park, Garden State Park, Philadelphia Park, and Timonium.
The Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, whose affiliates represent many horsemen in the Mid-Atlantic, remains committed to NTRA. Smith said the NTRA would proceed with its plan to assist in the marketing of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships series even though MATCH races will be held at tracks in Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey.
"That won't be affected," Smith said. "We've been looking for ways across the board to create programs and benefits for horsemen."
MATCH was created by THA chief executive officer Alan Foreman, an NTRA board member.