THP Board Members Address Questions at Meeting

Board members from the Texas Thoroughbred HBPA (TTHBPA) met with a small group of concerned horsemen at Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, November 16. The purpose of the meeting was to clarify rumors that had been circulating about the TTHBPA and its umbrella organization, the Texas Horsemen's Partnership (THP), in addition to finding ways to allow all horsemen more input to the board members prior to making decisions that affect the racing industry.

Thoroughbred owner Jon Schaffer of Waller, Texas led the meeting, and other horsemen in attendance were Ruth Claflin of Bartlett, Charlotte Crider of Uvalde, Lane Hutchins of Fredericksburg, and Laurie Rossenwasser of Navasota. Board members present included David Arnold, Burl McBride and Susan O'Hara. THP Executive Director Tommy Azopardi was also at the meeting to assist in answering questions.

Questions were raised about the organizational structure of the THP and how decisions are made that affect both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse horsemen. It was explained that the THP is governed by a management committee that is comprised of three representatives from both the TTHBPA and the Texas Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (THBPA), which is the organization that represents horsemen with Quarter Horses, Arabians, Paints and Appaloosas. Further, each individual HBPA partner within the organization makes decisions that solely affect its members, and the management committee handles other issues that affect all horsemen, as well as issues regarding finance and staff.

The horsemen wanted to know if the TTHBPA board meetings are open to all horsemen. It was explained that all board meetings of the TTHBPA are open to the members and that routinely the meetings are held a track running a live Thoroughbred meet for the convenience of the horsemen. The board members present at the meeting encouraged the others to attend and voice their opinion. Those board members also pledged to post notices of the meetings so that horsemen know when and where the meetings are being held.

Additionally, it was pointed out that there is a local horsemen's committee serving at each live meet. Those committees typically meet every two weeks to address problems or issues that are specific to that particular meet. The committee members have the authority to resolve those issues and provide input to the board of directors on other matters that affect horsemen.

Questions were also raised about the eligibility of some of the directors of the TTHBPA to serve as members of the Board of Directors as outlined in its by-laws. Specifically, the by-laws state that anyone running as a candidate for election for the board of the TTHBPA must have started at least two (2) horses a combined minimum number of five (5) times in this state, or have historically actively raced horses in Texas. Thereafter, each director must maintain the status of a member in good standing, which means that, among other things, they must start at least one (1) horse each year that they remain on the board.

Azopardi confirmed that the THP staff verifies that all directors meet the criteria for being a candidate for the board when they are nominated for election. However, the staff does not routinely monitor the activity of all board members throughout their term on the board. He went on to state that to the best of his knowledge, all directors have maintained their member in good standing status while on the board of directors.

Mr. Schaffer suggested that the THP post the by-laws, minutes of prior meetings, and a notice of all upcoming meetings on the THP website. Those suggestions will be incorporated into the site, which received compliments from the group as a useful tool to disseminate information.

Azopardi acknowledged that getting information to the off-track, or haul-in horsemen has been a difficult challenge over the years. He committed to exploring other ways to spread news with the help of the horsemen in attendance at the meeting.

Questions were also raised about the finances of the THP and its budget. Currently the THP receives its funding from two sources, which are:

  1. 3% of the purse accounts at the racetracks, and ,/li>
  2. The interest on those accounts

The THP then splits the 3% it receives with the Texas Horsemen's Assistance Fund, Inc. (THAFI), which administers the benevolent trust account that disperses money to qualified members needing assistance with medical needs and other emergency situations. Currently, both the THP and the THAFI receive over $500,000 to carry out the programs they offer to the horsemen and cover the administrative costs associated with them.

In addition, the THP earns approximately $400,000 in interest from the consolidated purse accounts, which covers the expenses of operating programs such as the Centralized Horsemen's Bookkeeping system and education programs, in addition to paying the salaries, rent and other costs associated with running the organization.

Another topic that was discussed was the need for more racing opportunities. The horsemen present for this meeting were upset at fact that Retama would not have a mixed meet next year or any other races for Thoroughbred horses during the spring. The TTHBPA opposed the mixed meet at Retama, and the trainers present at the meeting expressed their frustrations over not being able to get races for their horses and the fact that their owners want to see the horses run. The board members present explained that they were trying to balance the needs and desires of all of their members, citing the horsemen that also want purses to be at the $100,000 per day minimum level. Most everyone at the meeting agreed that it is a difficult balance to maintain and promised to work together to address these problems.

Starting next week, you will see many, if not all, of the changes suggested to the website. The THP is committed to being the best representative possible for all horsemen. We strongly encourage our members to give us feedback by whatever means is convenient. We suggest that you use the e-mail addresses shown on this site or call our office at (512) 467-9799.

We also have a list of the local horsemen's committee members posted at each racetrack, as well as the times and dates of the meetings. Please try to attend these meetings if you have concerns or issues that you wish to discuss. Together, we can continue to make Texas a great place to race.

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