The real world is a mix of good and bad, wins and losses, threats and victories. That is why it is so important to be vigilant and proactively protect your interests. Your association did just that when it took on the legal battle nearly eighteen months ago to put a stop to the fallacious effort to make barrel racing a legitimate pari-mutuel sport. Embodied in their endeavor was a significant threat to legitimate horse racing in the state of Florida as well as a more clandestine attempt to delegitimize traditional, representative horseman’s groups such as the FTBOA and the HBPA.
This week, an administrative law judge ruled that the division’s decision to allow for pari-mutuel barrel racing was illegal. This is a distinct, long awaited and hard fought victory for not only our FTBOA, but for horseracing in general.
Unfortunately, there is little time for celebration of this victory because other forces are at play that are threatening the quality of Florida racing. And regrettably, these entities are the very providers of the racing product in Florida as well as other venues around the country. The threat of Gulfstream Park and Calder Racecourse running head to head, competing for the same racing dates is not good for anyone: including them. If they in fact run head to head, they will be competing for the same horses and the same betting public. The vision this provides is smaller fields, poorer quality racing and diminished betting opportunities resulting in lower handle; all of which results in lower purses and a vicious cycle spiraling downward. The impact on South Florida racing economics is now further complicated for the first time thanks to recently State approved schedule changes for first Tampa, then Gulfstream which will now lead to all 3 tracks competing for the first time with each other all at the same time for import simulcast market share throughout the state. This is a very complex and potentially divisive issue with much uncertainty attached in terms of what, if anything, will be the net result from a track-by-track purse and operational revenue perspective. One thing is certain however, it is one more disruption whose timing could have been better and impacts better evaluated and understood.
And if this all weren’t enough, Calder purses took a significant hit the past week due to an unfortunate breakdown (thankfully, only temporary) in contract negotiations between the FHBPA and Calder which resulted last week in FHBPA withdrawing (which is their legal right per the Interstate Horse Racing Act) permission for Calder to export its signal to out-of-state simulcast outlets, platforms and tracks which then led to an unexpected and ill-timed purse cut for the current Calder meet. We are however, very pleased to have been advised by the two negotiating entities (good job to FHBPA and Calder) that they have gotten back at the negotiating table while also reinstating the FHBPA consent for Calder to return to exporting its live simulcast signal around the country while bringing purses back up to the pre-reduction levels under which the current race meet started. This recent good news, combined with the recent meetings between the two tracks corporate owners, give all of us some reason to be cautiously optimistic. We commend the FHBPA, Calder and Gulfstream for doing what they can do to keep an open dialogue and mind during these current challenging and complex discussions which may have a major impact on what our Florida racing industry will look like.
The vision of the FTBOA has always been to promote quality racing in Florida; and as much of it as possible. It has been our mission to support all of the providers (race meets) of the racing product whenever feasible to do so. Additionally, our wish has always been that these providers are successful and profitable and compete within a healthy arena thereby enhancing the product for the horseman, the public and ultimately bringing them the greatest success.
I think I speak for most if not all of the membership when I say I am fearful of what this ‘dates war’ combined with the current and future “simulcast disruptions” could mean for Florida racing and our Association. I can assure you that your leadership is engaged in this process, as engaged as we can be, and along with the diligent efforts of our CEO Lonny Powell are doing everything possible to facilitate communication and cooperation amongst the players involved in order to, hopefully, influence a favorable outcome for the entire Florida thoroughbred industry including our Breeders and Owners.
On March 11, we celebrated the Florida thoroughbred industry’s headline makers of 2012 at our annual Awards Gala. Florida breeders had a successful 2012 racing season, led by an impressive parade of Florida-bred stakes winners. A record-setting 12 Florida-breds won 15 Grade 1 races in 2012, from coast-to-coast, on dirt, turf and Polytrack, from sprinting to a mile and beyond. In addition, Florida-bred horses won 10.9% of the graded stakes last year with a foal crop of 8.8%.
There was also an uptick for breeders with Florida stallions as the only ones in the top ten thoroughbred breeding states or provinces in North America to produce more live foals in 2012 than in 2011. The average Florida stallion was responsible for 6.7% more foals in 2012 compared to 2011. Additionally, Florida mare owners produced a greater percentage of North American foals in 2012 compared to 2011, up to 7.8% compared to 7.4%.
This success is also seen in the Two-Year-Old in Training sale at OBS with the record $1.8 million colt sold last month. Sales gross, average and median price also increased. This bodes well for a good 2013 sales season. The fact book of the Jockey Club shows a trend that Florida breeders have been wondering would happen. Would breeders in the state leave for the casino money in New York? The trend shows that breeders are sending mares to New York, but from Kentucky not Florida. In 2012, Kentucky bred 398 less mares than in 2011, while New York increased by 451. Florida went up from 3,004 to 3,099. (Source: Jockey Club Report of Mares Bred) This is further proof that the industry in Florida has at the very least stabilized, proving once again that
Florida is one of the premier locations in the world to breed, raise and race thoroughbred horses.
As of this writing, the South Florida dates are still overlapping as both tracks prepare to host meets that will compete with each other for horses, the simulcasting dollar and on-track bettors. Throughout the history of racing in Florida, jockeying for racing dates has been a consistent part of the landscape. Each year, these overlaps resolved ending with date moves and no overlaps. The only exception was in 1989 when Calder and Hialeah went head-to-head. Within 2 weeks, Hialeah petitioned the state to end the meet and did so with 28 racing days under their belt. Whether it was Calder’s competitiveness at the time or the fact that two racetracks operating at the same time could not be profitable in that marketplace, it’s not sure. This year is no different with the jockeying of dates and it appears there will be two meets once again running at the same time.
Vastly different than 24 years ago is the South Florida marketplace. There have been less horses to fill cards due to lower foal crops in recent years. In 1989, field sizes averaged 8.91 nationally, in 2012 it was 7.89. In 2011, when Gulfstream Park’s opening day coincided for the first time with Tampa, the Oldsmar track’s average field size dropped from 9.11 to 8.54 leading to a decline in handle by almost 11%. About half of that handle decline was attributed to the lessened field size. Calder’s recent average was 7.1, already lower than the 8.5 sweet spot determined by The Jockey Club’s data systems needed to maximize handle return.
While not ideal, two tracks sharing much of the same marketplace of customers, horsemen and horses during the summer creates a challenge, but then again, when Calder opened in 1971 to those who said summer time racing in Florida was a losing proposition cannot dispute it’s over 40 years of workhorse-style success. With each track bringing some creative plans to create an environment for success, FTBOA certainly hopes this is the case.
February 21, 2013
Spring is knocking on the door and with it comes foals, breeding season, two-year-old sales and the lead up to the classics. While it all entails a lot of hard work, it is also a time for optimism. We are all suckers for the thrill of seeing the new foals, the promise of the next mating and the potential of our new sale or race candidate. I’d like to wish all of you the best in whatever segment of this exciting industry you are involved as well as take this opportunity to keep you informed on some association business.
The Awards Gala has taken shape into a much bigger event this year. The Hilton will still be catering but we’ve changed to a larger location to handle the bigger numbers. We’ve also included a charity silent auction for which the Outreach Committee and the Charity Committee members have been actively collecting some marvelous donations. Some of the items collected so far include: World Series tickets, Indy 500 tickets, a rare rocking horse, Navajo horse hair vase, shipping services, a beachfront room at the Hollywood Beach Marriott, limited edition Needles print, among other great items donated by supporters in the community. Even with this great line-up, we are still accepting donations. Remember that the funds raised go the Florida Thoroughbred Charities which in turn awards scholarships for local students, supports the Florida Thoroughbred Retirement Farm, as well as other industry and community charity programs.
Keep in mind, the silent auction is a great way to mix and mingle, catch up with old friends and meet new ones. While many who attend are old timers in the sport, there are fresh faces every year and all are coming to enjoy this night of celebration of our champion horses! From award winners this year to future award winners, you will find members from all sizes of operations there to network as we congratulate each other on a year better than recent ones. Plus, the business community and general public have been invited to learn more about and connect with the horse industry in a positive way, which can create economic growth for all of us. Dress for the event is cocktail attire and the location of the event is The Circle Square Cultural Center at SW 80th St/SW 80th Avenue in Ocala and the address is 8395 SW 80th St., Ocala FL 34481. Put it on the calendar!
It has been a mission of the board of directors and our CEO to modernize our association in all aspects. Some of this required financial expenditures but most of it required elbow grease applied by committee members, board members and our excellent staff. As part of this mission, at the Jan. 31, board meeting, in an ongoing effort to streamline the Association’s bylaws, the Board of Directors voted to amend the bylaws to simplify the language of Article XI, Section 1, which describes the qualifications for a horse to be registered as a “Florida-Bred.” As recommended by the Governance Committee, instead of the lengthier and more complex provisions dealing with the mare’s domicile and with stallion standing requirements, the amendment simply provides that any Thoroughbred “foaled in the State of Florida may be registered with the Association as a Florida-Bred.” This change should remove any previous ambiguities or confusion that might have otherwise been a concern for those interested in coming to our state and producing a Florida-Bred.
The update can be found on the website at Member Downloads at the top of the home page at www.ftboa.com or stop by the office. The bylaws before the change are redlined and posted, along with the most current copy of the bylaws.
Recommendations were taken at the open meeting for governance and elections and no changes have been made as the process for recommendation and review continues. These proposed changes will be communicated to membership because they could reflect changes in process.
Membership Renewal Time
It’s that time of year to renew your membership for $50, the same as previous years. In keeping with the stated mission above, a difference you will notice in the renewal forms is that they were changed in an effort to allow staff to more easily update membership records. Hopefully, this will translate to enhancing communication efforts with the membership. The deadline is March 31 and after that we will begin a New Member Drive. We are hoping you will join forces with us to encourage folks to join FTBOA so they can benefit from the services and marketing that FTBOA provides including reduced foal registration fees, The Florida Horse subscription, member discounts, free members’ programs, among other services. These benefits will be highlighted in the Member Updates page featured monthly in The Florida Horse.
Spring Racing Fever
As the Road to the Kentucky Derby begins, many Florida-breds once again shine as early contenders in the Oaks and the Derby. This brings attention to our sport and our State. To build excitement for the sport, the FTBOA Museum & Gallery will be hosting an exhibit - The Derek Gores Collection. The exhibition features the Florida-based artist’s work and his piece selected for this year’s official Derby poster. It’s free and open to the public from March 8 through April 8 and 35% of any commission sold goes to the Florida Thoroughbred Charities.
Dear FTBOA Members,
It has been apparent to me since coming on the Board of the FTBOA that an undercurrent of frustration exists at times with the members. A frustration borne in the fact that they believe the leadership of their organization is sometimes either not doing enough to further members’ interests or not up-to-date on current events of interest to membership; that leadership is not engaged in some important issue, or their eye is off the ball. This anxiety is apparent to me through questions I’m asked and comments I hear. I am sympathetic to this frustration and I am also frustrated by it. Let me explain.
I am frustrated because I wish members would be more willing to realize that we are all on the same team and share a vast majority of the same interests and objectives. I would like to invoke the word - trust. That members trust those in leadership as having a strong interest in seeing Thoroughbred breeding and racing flourish; an interest rooted in their own personal and commercial interests as well as their commitment to the Association.
However, I am also sympathetic to membership frustration because so often the work done by leadership is “behind the scenes”; certainly not announced and many times not even visible due to necessity and discretion. The reason for this is simple; much of what leadership does to promote the interests of our Association falls under the heading of strategy, intel gathering and negotiation. In most business negotiations, it is not prudent to show your hand or to publicly state your position. Nor is it wise to later reveal your strategies and lose possible advantage for further negotiation. And it is always a fool’s errand to burn bridges by gloating when successful.
I think every point I’ve made is obvious to all of you and don’t offer them to be instructive but as the overall context. I would also like for you to take solace in the fact that this Association has a great team assembled to guard and foster your interests - from your Board of Directors to executive management to the top-drawer outside professionals who we engage. Matt Bryan, our lobbyist, is unequivocally the best and most respected in Tallahassee. Warren Husband, our legal counsel, is superb at what he does and is very highly regarded in Tallahassee, law offices and courtrooms around the state. At the helm, our CEO Lonny Powell, has brought with him such a depth and breadth of experience it is jaw dropping. He has made a career out of successfully navigating these industry, political and strategic waters. In addition to that, Lonny is an excellent administrator and always has our interests keenly in focus while constantly working to keep a step ahead and out in front of the issues.
There are three recent developments that have prompted me to address this topic and I will briefly reference them to explain my point.
Mrs. Weber of Live Oak Stud recently sent a letter to Calder Race Course/Churchill Downs and to a specific news publication. In that letter she voiced her discontent over conditions at Calder and her opinion of Churchill Downs attitude toward Florida racing. Some members wanted that letter to be published in FEP publications because Mrs. Weber validated their sentiments. Mrs. Weber is a powerful person within the racing world, on our Board and in practically every other world. The impact of her words was felt. For our organization to “pile on” with a public display to what was already well stated would not have given it added advantage. I assure you that leadership has voiced the same, but in a different arena. We are not oblivious to the concerns as echoed by Mrs. Weber. However, rather than replicate her effort which achieved what it was intended to, your leadership took an alternate and complementary path of actually sitting down, eyeball-to-eyeball, with Calder management in our Ocala office and addressing many of these same issues as well as others in a candid and constructive business-like fashion versus reprinting the letter.
The legislature has begun their hearings on addressing the potential for expanded gambling in the state. As has been reported in many places, the FHBPA and the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association jumped into the fray with the Quarter Horse Association doing all the speaking at the hearing. Some of our members are asking why we didn’t join in. Don’t we realize how important this is? My answer to all of you is yes. It is precisely that we understand the gravity of this that we did not jump in prematurely. This has been on our radar screen a long time and active strategizing has been ongoing. The leadership of your Association will make the right presentation, to the right people, at the right time and at the right place to have the greatest impact for the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry. Though we suggested a somewhat different course of action, we respect their right to conduct their own business and will continue to cooperate with them whenever appropriate and reasonably possible in supporting and promoting the Thoroughbred industry.
The last topic that understandably has many members unsettled is the pending racing situation in South Florida. I can assure you that the FTBOA is very focused on this subject and will strive to have as much input as possible to protect the interests of its members. We share the concerns of most when it comes to the possible impacts of competing race dates in South Florida and, like the horsemen and betting public, are frustrated by having no real control over the situation or any regulatory standing. However, public posturing will probably not be part of our strategy, so I ask that you trust us on this.
January 16, 2013
Dear FTBOA members,
First I would like to wish all of you a happy and prosperous New Year. And looking at some of the recent news in the Florida thoroughbred breeding industry, it appears we are well on our way to just that.
At the time of this writing, we have welcomed nine new stallions to Florida including Biondetti, Fappie’s Clown, Field Commission, Jackson Bend, Korona Kid, Overdriven, Seeking the Dia, Stratford Hill and Thunder Moccasin. In addition, we also welcome back Benny the Bull, who comes back to the Sunshine State from Brazil; and Double Honor, who returns from New Mexico.
It is not just the number of stallions coming into Florida that gives us promise. Looking at statistics from the Jockey Club, we know that local mare owners are making the most of our stallion population here in Florida like no other state. In fact, Florida stallions are the only group of studs in the top ten thoroughbred breeding states or provinces in North America to produce more live foals in 2012 than in 2011. And our stallions didn’t just experience a marginal increase in productivity. The average Florida stallion was responsible for 6.7% more foals in 2012 compared to the previous year. And the forecast is for a further increase during the 2013 foaling season.
There is further data that showcases the quality of stallions that stand in Florida as we look at the graded stakes races run in 2012. Of the 349 such races run in the United States and Canada last year, Florida-bred horses won 38 of those prestigious events or 10.9%. Adding to the impact of this statistic is the fact that Florida produced only 8.5% of the North American population of foals in 2009 and 9.2% of the same group in 2010. Averaging the two foal crops that likely made up a great deal of the racing population last year, we see that some 8.8% of the foal crop that was bred in Florida won nearly 11% of the graded races run in North America last year.
Also of note in the Jockey Club statistics: Florida mare owners produced a greater percentage of North American foals born in 2012 compared to 2011. Last year Florida produced 7.8% of the North American foal crop compared to 7.4% in the previous year. That is the first time we have seen an increase in that statistic since 2004.
So with the New Year comes optimism fueled by the above mentioned data and hope of continued improvement in our industry.
We look forward to working for you at the FTBOA this year and pushing for the continued improvement of our great thoroughbred breeding and racing industry here in the Sunshine State.
I would like to conclude by applauding you for your tireless efforts in making our industry so strong and resilient. I sincerely hope that 2013 is a terrific year for you, your families and your farms and stables.
November 29, 2012
Dear FTBOA Members:
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Holiday Season. It is a time when all of us can catch our breath and enjoy loved ones.
The FTBOA is continuing to move ahead as an association. Under Lonny’s direction the administration is continuing to come in to the twenty-first century by being more modernized and responsive. His excellent team has flourished under his tutelage. Lonny has also succeeded at invigorating relationships with other Thoroughbred racing stake holders; a testament to the experience and relationships he brought to the office.
The legislative leaders are currently staking out their respective agendas and goals for the upcoming session and our team is watching this activity very closely. Our CEO and board of directors are very fortunate to have two of the most talented people in Tallahassee counseling our efforts on this front. Warren Husband, our legal counsel and Matt Bryan our lobbyist, are extremely in tune to the legislative landscape and have a complete understanding of our priorities. This is of paramount importance as expanded gambling continues to gather steam.
Maybe most immediate on our horizon are the rogue Quarter Horse permits and the Gretna barrel racing scam. These are challenges that may well involve legal as well as legislative “fixes”. Our efforts on this front have aligned us strongly with the HBPA and even the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association. I can guarantee you that we will continue to work very hard to ensure the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry remains vibrant in our state.
An effort of the board over the past year has been to create committees that will help forward the work of the association as well as allow a venue for more member participation. It has been slow in evolving but is proving to be a success. The Racing and Stakes committee, the Governance committee and the Community Outreach committee have all been engaged in moving business forward and have shown that the structure works. They have also shown where improvement can be made within this committee structure. This coming year there will be two more committees formed to address International Relations and Retired Thoroughbreds.
There is an aspect of my position in this Association that brightens my day every time I think about it. It is the unique commonality we share in the love of the horse and the breeding/racing industry. I dare say that most of us, if not all, are inflicted with this same malady! We all have different stories of how horses came in to our lives but the reality is that for all of us it is a paramount aspect of our lives; part of who we are. In spite of other differences, this common interest creates an alliance between us that makes our goals as an association attainable if we continue to work together.
September 27, 2012
Dear FTBOA Members:
It has come to our attention that there have been several e-mails sent to Members from “Hoofprints" or ocalahoofprints@aol. Please understand that these e-mails are not from FTBOA. Official FTBOA materials will be identified as so and when appearing in a letter format will be signed.
We would like to extend many thanks to the number of FTBOA members who took the time to call our office with your questions and bring these confusing e-mails from others to our attention. We genuinely appreciate your concern and support. Unfortunately, these e-mails with their attachments are being confused with the FTBOA Annual Membership Meeting documents. We apologize that frequent distractions aimed toward our board and staff have now generated confusion for you, the Membership. We share your frustration and disappointment and we are sorry this small group continues to create uncertainty and misunderstanding at the expense of our Association and its members.
The FTBOA message is simple:
- Please vote
- There is no proxy (e-mails from another source suggested otherwise)
- Members were mailed an individual ballot to vote that can be mailed if you cannot attend the FTBOA Annual Membership Meeting.
- If your schedule permits, please do come to our Annual Meeting of the Members on October 19, 1:00 p.m.
- FTBOA is not affiliated with “Hoofprints or ocalahoofprints” or its emails
There will always be differing points of view; however, we all need to work together and move ahead as an Association to meet the real challenges facing our industry. Please join us to help make the Organization become stronger.
I encourage you to contact a member of our FTBOA staff directly if you have questions regarding the FTBOA. We hope to see you at our annual meeting on October 19th at the Marion County Ag Center, 2232 NE Jacksonville Road, Ocala, Florida. Please exercise your member right to vote by returning your ballot in the mail if you can’t attend to vote in person.
All the best,
August 18, 2012
Some exciting and important news has developed from the most recent Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Board of Directors meeting that was held in our offices in Ocala Thursday.
We are very happy to announce that based upon the recommendations from the management of our FTBOA offices and endorsement by the FTBOA Racing Committee, your Board of Directors has approved an increase in the breeders’ bonus on awards already paid for 2011. In 2010, we paid out approximately $490,000 in bonus money on approximately $4.9 million in awards for a total of $5.4 million. This year, Florida breeders will receive an additional $570,000 in bonus money on more than $5.1 million previously awarded, bringing the total to nearly $5.7 million. It pleases the board and the staff greatly that we are able to do this – even in the face of these difficult economic times currently hampering our country, state, community and industry.
One of my goals as president has been to increase our awards, even if it is gradual, and demonstrate that progress can be made, even during these challenging times. Upon Lonny’s arrival as CEO, he shared with me that this too was one of his goals and he and his team have never lost sight of that aspiration. I know I speak for our entire Board when I say we are committed to help our members and industry achieve a better economic foothold in the face of these tough economic times —“brick by brick” if we have to.
The increase mentioned above will bring the total blended percentage to nearly 17%, which we see as a meaningful, ongoing progress. Anyone that received an award during 2011 will get a bonus check for an additional 11%. To make the math easy, if you received $1,000 in 2011, you will receive a bonus check for $110. We also want to remind you that 2011 was the first year in which awards were paid to the top three finishers as opposed to just the winners, resulting in significantly more checks being sent to you, the members. With this increase, we expect that we will average a significant benchmark in the years in which these types of bonuses have been paid to those who breed and register thoroughbreds in Florida.
Another topic addressed by the Board during our recent meeting was the upcoming elections to our Board. With that in mind, I would also like to introduce to you the five candidates nominated to these elections to the FTBOA Board of Directors.
Joe Barbazon is a current board member and is eligible for another term. He is a second generation horseman who operates Pleasant Acres Farm in Ocala with his wife Helen.
Fred Brei is a past president of the Association and current member of the FTBOA Racing Committee. He currently operates Jacks or Better Farm in Ocala where he runs his homebred operation.
Brent Fernung is the current first vice president as a Board Member of the Association and is eligible for another term. He, along with his wife Crystal, own and operate Journeyman Stud in Ocala.
Dr. Phil Matthews is the current president of the Association and is eligible for another term under the bylaws of the FTBOA. Dr. Matthews has been a practicing veterinarian in Ocala for more than 30 years and owns and operates Cedar Grove Farm.
Joe O’Farrell will be running for the FTBOA board for the first time. He received an accounting degree from Erskine College and is currently immersed in assisting in the management of Ocala Stud.
I firmly believe that the candidates chosen and represented to you here are people of integrity that will invest the time, discretion, and thoughtful consideration necessary to provide our association with proper stewardship. It is imperative that board members are vested in our Thoroughbred industry and that they are willing to volunteer the time necessary to develop the strategies essential to keeping our industry healthy and vibrant while supporting the good work of our FTBOA staff and office. The board believes that the people they’ve nominated are individuals that will put the Association first, above personal agendas, and therefore make the right choices for the breeders and owners of Florida. The nominees we place before you are diverse in experience, scope of involvement and points-of-view, though united in their passion for the Florida thoroughbred and support of the industry.
We continue to work toward a bright future with you and the Florida thoroughbred breeding and racing industry and are working hard to sustain our current positive directions. As always, we encourage anybody who would like to become more active in the Association and assist us in moving forward, to call the FTBOA offices and make an appointment to speak with a member of our senior staff.
We wish continued good racing luck to all of you and look forward to seeing you at the races, farm or sales pavilion.
Dr. Phil Matthews
June 28, 2012
Soon after being awarded the honor of serving as president of our association I set the goal of updating our bylaws during this year. Two issues were in focus. The first was to conduct some housekeeping or cleanup by modernizing the language and removing redundancies, ambiguities, etc. The second was to specifically address the election process.
To implement this task, the board created a committee, which I chaired and which consisted of several staff members, several board members, and two non-board members. The non-board members were chosen on the basis that they were members in good standing, had never served on the board, and had been involved in the Florida industry for a minimum of several years. Warren Husband, legal counsel for the FTBOA, was involved in this process as well.
As I mentioned, the housekeeping portion of this process was relatively easy and frankly was accomplished mostly by Mr. Husband and staff, with detailed oversight and review by the committee. The election revamping was another story. It took several meetings of the governance committee and a lot of discussion to create the resulting changes, which I believe solve most of the criticisms leveled at the prior election process.
It was incumbent upon us as a committee to bring to the board a set of draft bylaws changes that they would find workable and acceptable, that addressed the concerns of members, and at the same time protected the integrity of the association.
There were three major areas of concern with the election process that had been voiced to me by the membership. First was the bylaw references to proxies for the election and for the annual meeting; these have been eliminated. Second was the possible confusion posed by the ballot and the mail-in voting process itself; we believe these have been simplified greatly. Third was the petition process by which a member could be nominated as a candidate to serve on the board. This process was thought to be onerous and even intimidating. This has been eliminated and replaced by the ability to vote for write-in candidates.
Our new bylaws as amended will be posted on our website, as was the case with the previous versions. In addition, in the coming weeks, the website and other electronic and print media will provide more explanation on the ballot structure and board election process.
Many, and I dare say most, of the membership had no pressing concerns with the election process as it was conducted in the past. However, both Lonny Powell and I believe there was enough of a perception issue and, in some cases, discomfort with the process, that it needed updating, and the board agreed. What has been produced should simplify the nomination process, the ballot, and the election process, while protecting the integrity of the organization.
This last point should be emphasized. It was vitally important to achieve the goals of clarity and fairness while at the same time ensuring that our association will always continue to serve the best interests of our membership and the Florida thoroughbred industry of which we are all a part. It is incumbent upon the leadership of this association to be ever mindful of our charter and the obligations and responsibilities charged by such, which is to maintain the health and integrity of the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry and promote the equine industry within the state of Florida.
I would like to thank everyone that served on the committee, not only for their considerable time but for their thoughtful comments and discussion. I would also like to thank the entire board of directors and the membership for being patient with this process.
I would like to address a final topic in this report. Eddie Woods has resigned from the board due to personal business commitments. I am saddened by his choice because he is certainly a pillar of our Florida thoroughbred industry and leant valuable insight to the board. However, I applaud the forthright manner in which he resigned, acknowledging that to do so formally gave us the opportunity to replace him and move on. He remains supportive of the various leadership efforts being undertaken by FTBOA.
As directed in the bylaws, the board replaced Mr. Woods at the last meeting with Mr. Greg Wheeler of Bridle Oaks Farm, owned by him and his wife, Donna. Mr. Wheeler had served on the governance committee and made a splendid contribution. His addition to the process was invaluable and his comments were always well thought out and constructively presented.
It was my hope that by creating a committee structure (which frankly is still in its infancy) we would expose members to the governance process of the association, while at the same time giving board members and staff a chance to work with them. By doing so, it provides a venue for members to become more involved and board members to become more aware of other perspectives and talents.
This process worked famously in the case of Mr. Wheeler who showed he would dedicate the time necessary and not be afraid to voice a thoughtful, straight-from-the-heart, opinion. We are excited about Greg joining the board.
June 10, 2012
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate our staff at Florida Equine Publications (FEP), who were recently honored with one of the highest accolades in equine publishing during the American Horse Publications annual awards in Williamsburg, Va., June 2.
I think it is important that everyone connected to the Florida Thoroughbred Industry, but specifically the members of the FTBOA, realize what a wonderful job the staff of FEP has always done, and is still doing, on our behalf. FEP plays a critical role for FTBOA. They inform the public outside of our industry who we are and our importance to the economics and aesthetics of our state. In addition, FEP provides FTBOA with a marketing presence to the players within the thoroughbred industry outside of Florida. And most obviously, they provide information to our membership.
FEP is essential to what we do at FTBOA and I know I speak for many of you when I express how proud I am of how well they do it.
For the sixth consecutive year, The Florida Horse was honored with AHP’s general excellence award. The Florida Horse took home seven awards in all, including three first prize awards. The magazine was also awarded first prize for a publication cover (print) and in the category of an Equine Related Show or Event Program or Directory.
The prize winning cover appeared on the October 2011 issue, was entitled “Flat Out Impressive” and was designed by art director John Filer. The cover features 2011 Florida-bred Champion Older Male Flat Out and the AHP judges called the design “breath taking.”
The 2011 Farm and Service Directory took home the other first prize. It was noted for its design and flow from section to section as well as the interesting and well-designed editorial that broke up the easy to read columns.
The Florida Horse also took home three second prizes in One-Page or Two-Page Spread Editorial Design (print) for “Big Horse” featuring Mucho Macho Man; Editorial Design (print) all categories for “Gone In A Flash” featuring Flashpoint and art director John Filer’s illustration of Anhidrosis. Our staff was also named the third-place finisher in the category of Editorial Design (print) for “Still Perfect” featuring Perfect Feather.
Sixty-two AHP members were named finalists in the 2012 contest for material published in 2011. Some 90 AHP members submitted 686 entries.
May 21, 2012
There are many factors involved in making an association such as the FTBOA successful. By “such as,” I am referring to any not-for-profit, member-owned association. Of those many factors, I would like to address two of them today.
First is the creation and maintenance of a dedicated administrative staff. Without such, the association would not be able to conduct its business, no less flourish. We are very fortunate to have such a staff working on our behalf at the FTBOA.
We have all witnessed the struggles businesses have endured during the present economic downturn and have observed the sacrifices made by the employees of these businesses in forgoing raises, cutting hours, and taking on more responsibilities; simply doing what it takes to keep the enterprise alive.
The FTBOA, as with every other business entity, has taken the same financial hits. Our staff has been called upon to make those same sacrifices. And, like so many of you have observed in your own lives with the people with whom you work, they have done so with a dedication of purpose. Our association cannot survive without people that possess this sort of integrity and work ethic. Like you, I am very grateful we have them.
My second topic is volunteerism. Every association such as ours depends on its members to give of their time and energy to the workings of the organization; from the daily administration of business to outlining and then reaching the goals that define success. Historically, within the FTBOA, this volunteerism has been most apparent within the arena of the board of directors.
As an association, we want to be able to tap thoughtful, successful people that are willing to give of their time and energy to bettering our association.
We want folks that bring knowledge and experience from all facets of the thoroughbred industry in which they have personally been involved. As well, it enriches our ‘brain trust’ when members bring knowledge and experience from other endeavors, other industries, in which they work or may own.
The motivation for these individuals to do so is a combination of giving back, a passion for wanting to improve things, and the recognition of the importance of stewardship. For the most part, it is time consuming and thankless and creates a distraction from their primary responsibilities. Certainly there are rewards as well, such as the camaraderie with other volunteers and a sense of achievement.
These people should have a reasonable expectation that there will be unpleasant or tedious tasks involved in one’s tenure as a volunteer. As well, they should certainly understand the prospect for the potential of minor confrontations due to different visions within the organization.
Whether we are discussing a member of our hard working staff, or a volunteer board member, it is totally unreasonable that they should have any expectation of being maligned personally, lied about, or treated rudely and unfairly. When this occurs the incentives for volunteering become outweighed by the headaches and detriments. Good employees will find work elsewhere; fleeing for an environment in which they are appreciated.
Unfortunately in our community we have a blogger (and former employee of Florida Equine Publications) that continues to attack everything about our association. He does so under the guise of journalistic investigation. It’s a farce. He uses this ruse as a pedestal for self-aggrandizement. His activity has done nothing more than create an atmosphere of ridicule and defamation to which normal people are unwilling to subject themselves; it destroys morale and makes it impossible to retain quality people.
This same person is now attacking the Farm Managers Club, a local icon of good works and charitable giving. I suppose we are to believe that they too have hidden, sinister agendas.
Let’s not give any power to one individual that would destroy what all of us have worked hard to build.
When you allow an organization to be demoralized it will no longer draw credible volunteers and it will not generate an environment that will retain good employees. What it will do, is make it vulnerable to being taken over by those that only cast suspicion and insults, marking the beginning of the end for an association such as ours because all these people know is to demean and ridicule. They do not know how to lead, strategize and build.
At present we have a healthy organization of which we can be proud, and like you, my goal is to see that continue.
May 2, 2012
FTBOA announces advisory committee formations
The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association is happy to announce the formation of several new advisory committees designed to continue improving and growing the Association. Each committee will be made up of several members, each to have representatives from the FTBOA Board of Directors, staff and general membership.
We are very excited about the ability to broaden the input and expand the inclusion of a cross-section of perspectives into the Association through the broad-based participation of Member volunteers. Upon Lonny’s arrival here as new CEO in January, he made it very clear that he wanted the organization to be more inclusive and volunteer-driven. His desires melded with my objectives as the new president to reach out to FTBOA Members and get them positively engaged in the future of their Association and industry. I am very happy to announce this important progress towards that end.
Each committee chair is a sitting FTBOA Board Member who will be responsible for recruiting potential members for their respective committee, holding meetings on an ongoing basis and reporting back to the CEO, President and FTBOA Board as to their efforts and suggestions. Powell and I along with the FTBOA Board, have created five advisory committees currently which include: 1. Goverance, 2. Racing and Stakes, 3. Outreach, Activities and Events, 4. Communications and 5. Social and Charity Committee.
As of today, the committees and their members are:
Phil Matthews – Chair, FTBOA board member
Brent Fernung – FTBOA board member
George Russell – FTBOA board member
Bill Rainbow – FTBOA member
Greg Wheeler – FTBOA member
Lonny Powell – FTBOA staff
Caroline Davis – FTBOA staff
Brent Fernung – Chair, FTBOA board member
Phil Matthews – FTBOA board member
George Russell – FTBOA board member
Fred Brei – FTBOA member
Lonny Powell – FTBOA staff
Bonnie Heath – Co-Chair, FTBOA board member
Diane Parks – Co-Chair, FTBOA board member
Francis Vanlangendonck – FTBOA board member
Crystal Fernung – FTBOA member
Bobby Jones – FTBOA member
Denise Alexander – FTBOA member
Caroline Davis – FTBOA staff
Becky Robinson – FTBOA staff
Patrick Vinzant – FTBOA staff
Roy Lerman – Chair, FTBOA board meber
Brock Sheridan – FTBOA staff
Patrick Vinzant – FTBOA staff
Eddie Woods – Co-Chair, FTBOA board member
Craig Bernick – Co-Chair, FTBOA board member
Brock Sheridan – FTBOA staff
March 28, 2012
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt of a speech given to the Farm Manager’s Association by Dr. Matthews on Mar. 27.
When I accepted the nomination as president of the FTBOA, I had several things on my mind. First and foremost, is that it is a great organization which has a serious responsibility of representing the Thoroughbred breeders and owners in this state. It is my responsibility as its temporary steward, to make certain that it remains viable and continues to serve the needs of its members.
In addition to the fundamental task of keeping the boat afloat, there has been the continuation, or completion, of tasks begun my predecessor, Fred Brei. Most notably, getting Lonny on board and moving ahead with a more secure accounting/computer program for the handling of the trust fund. In addition to that, Mike Compton left and there was a search to conduct for a new Florida Equine Publications editor in chief. You throw in the Gretna barrel racing fiasco and the legislative session and it all translates to a busy time.
But in addition to these things, I also wanted to address some topics that, if accomplished, I felt would better the organization. Some of these items are as follows.
Address the election process. This is important because the perception that this process has created is a perception of mistrust.
I would like to see us work toward becoming a more tech savvy association in how we communicate administratively, within the membership and externally to the industry and public. By virtue of this, the leadership and administration can become more communicative to the membership. I chose the words ‘work toward’ purposely. My experience tells me that these efforts never move as fast as desired and it may take longer than one year. In addition, we are starting from further back technologically than I originally envisioned.
I’d like to help facilitate a cultural shift in the organization that allows for and promotes more membership engagement.
Create a format by which this association conducts ‘regular’ strategic planning sessions to identify issues and goals that the membership has input into and is kept informed about.
It is my hope that all of the above will foster more unity within the association. Our industry has taken a beating, not just in Florida, but everywhere in the country. It is important that we keep our eye on the ball and work in unison toward common goals. The last thing this organization needs is to be pointing guns inward. In some respect, I understand why this happened. However, I will submit to you that the discontent felt within our association has had several roots.
The economy has hurt many of us. It has driven people out of business and made it harder for those of us that have survived.
As I tell people, I am working harder for less and enjoying it less. Much of the fun and optimism is gone when you are in survival mode. Frankly, this environment creates an atmosphere of looking for someone to blame.
There has been a lack of response from leadership in years past on certain issues that resulted in mistrust and suspicion on the part of some. These topics simply needed addressing and explanation and I firmly believe that had that been done in a more open, transparent and explanatory fashion, a lot of angst could have been avoided.
There was also a fair amount of misinformation that members possessed and because they thought it was correct it angered them and eventually others. Again, better communication, but as importantly, more responsiveness to these issues when they arise is also important.
But as I say that, I am reminded of Fred Brei’s tenure in this office. He did just that, he was very responsive. Not only in answering questions and providing information, but also by conducting some internal house cleaning. Yet, I’ve heard criticism about his ‘style’. Let us, as a group, focus on results. When you have someone that brings results, let’s leave ‘style’ out of it.
For a moment I want to address our industry and how this association fits in to that very broad picture. As breeders and owners of race horses, your livelihoods are dependent upon the health of the overall industry. I know that the price of your product is essential to your success. Your product may be a sale horse or a race horse.
The price of your product is not only the sale proceeds or the purse, but is also the breeder’s award or the owner’s award or supplement. And I think obvious to most of us, is the value that is created for our product through the success of the horses we sell.
Whether that improves the pedigree of our mare, potentially increases the stud fee of our stallion, or enhances our reputation as providing a good product at the sale; whatever it may be.
But what does everything I just mentioned boil down to? Everything is dependent on the overall health of our industry. It is the obligation of this association to do whatever it can to ensure our industry as a whole, remains healthy and strong. Yes, we dispense breeder’s awards and it is a very important part of what we do. But it is foolish to think that is all this association does do or should do. It is our obligation to be your public relations arm, to carry the message of how important this industry is to the economy and preservation of green space in the state of Florida. It is imperative that we preserve our seat at the legislative table and protect the gains we’ve made there and press for more. It is important that we don’t let the racinos stop racing; that we don’t allow them to do away with horse racing and only have slot machines and card rooms. Put simply, we need to work hard to preserve a racing venue within our state. It is important that we don’t allow bizarre forms of pari-mutuel gaming, such as barrel racing, to become a substitute for legitimate horse racing. And finally, it is becoming extremely important that we do whatever possible to re-capture all of the revenue we are losing to ADW.
We’ve all seen the New York Times front page article by now. For anyone that thought our industry operates in a vacuum; that should have been a real eye-opener. Is there anyone that doesn’t understand how increasingly important a strong public relations effort is for our industry? Our association? Does anyone not see the vital importance of conducting community outreach through informing the public and conducting charity efforts within our community? Do you think that our involvement, again through our charities arm, of taking care of retired race horses, in light of that NY Times article, is not important? Is it not a prudent objective of this association? This association should leave nothing to chance in protecting our industry from the carpet baggers that wish to destroy it for their own financial gain or to the do-gooders that have never been around a horse and yet think they know more about animal husbandry than the people in this industry.
I invite all of you to think about something that sometimes escapes us, no matter the level of our experience and knowledge. Often times all of us are better served by giving others the benefit of the doubt. Our first reaction may be to question the actions or the intent of those actions taken by others. But it is always prudent to first fully understand the action taken and then to understand the circumstances that formed the decisions leading to those actions. As members of the FTBOA we are all on the same team.
We have tremendous commonality of purpose. Our first inclination should be to side with each other and to work with each other. Realizing that another’s philosophy isn’t necessarily wrong, it may simply be different, and that does not constitute reason for mistrust.
I can assure all of you that there is no board member that has any goal other than the FTBOA becoming stronger and better at serving its membership. I assure you that you have a team of people that work for our association, led by Lonny Powell, that commit themselves every day to making our association better.
I think that the goals I mentioned above will help to ensure the membership that the administration and volunteer leadership of this organization has one paramount goal, to make our Florida thoroughbred industry stronger.
February 27, 2012
I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome our new Editor-In-Chief of the Florida Equine Publications, Brock Sheridan. We had the good fortune of having several highly qualified candidates apply for the position, which made for an interesting interview process, and allowed for the comparison of both contrasting and similar skill sets.
Last year’s announcement of our new Executive Director/CEO of the association prompted questions from the membership about what criteria the search committee had used in making the selection. A prudent question that certainly is pertinent in this instance as well.
The position of Editor-In-Chief involves three primary skill sets; writing, editing and managing. The priority of each can be argued but all are integral in the performance of this position. Brock Sheridan is educated and experienced in all of these arenas.
Beyond the necessary skill sets that qualified Brock for this position, he had several more qualities that the search committee had hoped to find in a candidate. He is personable and engaging; obviously traits that work well in all arenas of life. He is also very savvy in the world of high tech communication and social media. This is an area that we feel strongly can be expanded upon for the benefit of the association; for both intra-association communication and outwardly to further enhance our industry exposure and public relations efforts.
We all realize that Mike Compton left big shoes to fill. I’d like everyone to know that the Board of Directors and the Search Committee took that very seriously and feel that a good selection has been made. Brock will officially be on board March 5 and I invite all members to give him a warm reception and take an opportunity to meet him at some point in the near future. I am very excited that Brock is joining the team and I am as excited about the future of FEP.
January 14, 2012
On Thursday, I received some good news from Warren Husband, the Association’s attorney, when he sent me an email updating me on the Gretna Racing situation.
He stated, “Finally, some good news for our side. The folks at the Rutledge firm obtained a forthcoming Attorney General Opinion addressed to Secretary Ken Lawson at DBPR on the subject of slot machines. In response to a question posed by Lawson, the Attorney General has concluded that the Department may not issue a slot machine license in any county outside of Miami-Dade and Broward that seeks approval of slot machines by local referendum (see s.551.102(4)) without new, specific legislative authorization for the local referendum.
"No such authorization currently exists for Gadsden County or anywhere else. This is obviously bad news for Gretna Racing. In light of this opinion, the Department will almost certainly not entertain a slot machine license application from Gretna Racing without the passage of further legislation on the matter.”
For clarification, the ‘Rutledge firm’ referred to by Warren is the law firm that is representing the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent Protective Association, and Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association in the Gretna Racing litigation.
If you are interested in seeing a well-written newspaper article on the subject, click here.
I also would like to remind all members that the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association will hold a Membership Meeting on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. at the Hilton-Ocala. This meeting will be an informational meeting and will introduce you to Lonny Powell, the Association’s new CEO/Executive Vice President.
January 2, 2012
Happy New Year to all! Let’s hope it is just that for our industry; happy and prosperous.
It’s a time when many people think about resolutions to make their lives a little better; changes they could make to improve something in some way. It is also a time to reflect upon where we’ve been and what we have accomplished over time that has brought us to where we are in our lives.
The FTBOA is entering a new year and a new era today. It has been under the stewardship of Dick Hancock for 22 years and now the mantle is being handed off to someone else in Lonny Powell. I welcome Lonny and look forward to his energy, insight and abilities. However, it is my purpose today to thank Dick for all he accomplished for this association for many years of dedicated hard work.
Like many of you, I’ve known Dick for many years by virtue of his position in our organization. Although I always considered Dick a friend, we did not know each other well. After coming on the board my contact increased, and we worked a lot together this past year. It was always interesting to me what an absolute fountain of information he is about the history of our association and all of the ancillary intangibles that came with the process of getting us to where we are today; the legislation, negotiating with the race tracks, dealing with our local community and on and on.
What impressed me the most in dealing with Dick and in the many conversations that we’ve had has been his dedication to the FTBOA.
All of his efforts and thought processes were centered on what can be done to improve our association and make things better for its members. Dick and I had a few disagreements on strategy but I could never fault him on intent.
Past president Don Dizney said it well, “Richard Hancock’s retirement from the FTBOA is certainly the end of an era. He was pivotal in so many of the association’s important accomplishments over the last two decades. His many hours of strategizing, investment and effort provided a winning formula for the association and the entire Thoroughbred industry. Richard Hancock has played a significant role in making horseman, community leaders and legislators in the state and around the world know that Florida is the perfect place to breed, raise and train champion horses. He will be sorely missed.”
A few of the successes that we have enjoyed under Dick’s leadership are as follows.
Last year’s victories in FTBOA’s economic stimulus package passed by the legislature:
• Reduction in the tax on slot-machine revenue at Gulfstream Park, Calder and other pari-mutuels from 50 percent to 35 percent
• Breeders’ Flexibility Bill allowing more freedom in structuring the state’s incentive awards program
• A not-for-profit Thoroughbred racing permit for Ocala/Marion County and extended card room hours for pari-mutuel facilities
In recent years:
• Amendment 4 (2004) and enabling slot machine legislation (2005)
• The granting of a pari-mutuel permit for Ocala
• Florida-bred Stakes Program which funded such signature racing days as the Sunshine Millions, Florida Million day, and Florida Cup Day
• Promotional Funding budget with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to market Florida’s horse industry
• Changes in Breeders’ and Owners’ Awards legislation through the years which saw to it that Breeders’ Awards were paid on a timely basis and with an increase in the program (1991)
• Lobbying for and getting lower workman’s compensation rates so that our breeding farms and training facilities could continue to operate
In his early years, Dick played an important role in the Sunday Racing Bill (which led to increased attendance at the racetracks in 1987) and the Family Bill (which helped increase handle, which in turn increased purses in 1988).
FTBOA’s mission has been dedicated to ensuring a prosperous business climate for Florida’s Thoroughbred industry and for the last 22 years much of that mission has come from Dick’s leadership. He has taken great pride in Florida-bred racehorses, their success on the racetrack and in the breeding shed.
In addition to his role as executive vice president of FTBOA, he spearheaded Florida Thoroughbred Charities Inc.’s direction and the Florida Retirement Farm.
Through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Dick placed an emphasis on building relationships with horsemen from around the globe through trade missions, which opened new markets for Florida-bred horses in England, Ireland, Italy, Russia, South Korea and South America.
I would like to wish Dick a Happy New Year and more than that a happy new chapter in his life. I would also like to thank him for all he achieved for us over many years of service.
December 31, 2011
As members of the FTBOA, many of us don’t have the opportunity to work with the staff of the organization, whether they are on the publications side or on the membership side. Personally, I had little contact with most of those people prior to my serving on the board of directors. It has been a gratifying experience to get to know all of these people and to witness first-hand the dedication to their work and their commitment to the Association.
Today, I would like to address one person in particular, Michael Compton, editor-in-chief of Florida Equine Publications.
To give Michael the label of editor frankly sells him short. He has been much more than that; the proverbial glue that holds that department together.
Michael came to us from California 12 years ago and he brought with him a passion and respect for horse racing. Accolades followed soon after his arrival with numerous awards from American Horse Publications (AHP). In fact, The Florida Horse magazine is AHP’s reigning five-time best state or regional publication in the equine industry.
Beyond Michael’s literary skills, he brought a team mentality to Florida Equine Publications (FEP) and a strong work ethic. This team atmosphere became contagious with his fellow employees.
It is literally with a heavy heart that I tell you Michael is leaving us. He is moving on to pursue his dreams and we wish him the very best. Michael Compton will be sorely missed and even harder to replace. This is obvious to anyone that reads our publications and even more so to those of you that had the opportunity to work more closely with him on your advertising and other publishing projects.
Brent Fernung may have said it best, “Michael Compton has proven over the years to be one of the most conscientious people that I have come in contact with. He is an excellent writer with an astute knowledge of horse racing and breeding, talents that are in short supply. That, combined with his work ethic, guarantees he will be sorely missed by the Florida Thoroughbred industry.
For all of us, I would like to tell Michael that we will miss him greatly but wish him the very best in all of his future endeavors. Thanks, Michael, for all you’ve done for us.
December 23, 2011
A short message to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season! Governor Rick Scott offered us a little bit of good cheer this past week when he finally publicly entered the fray on the barrel racing issue.
This will be helpful in our battle to stop this potentially very harmful nonsense. Because the granting of the permit was done through the DBPR, an administrative division of the executive branch of the state of Florida, the legislature is unable to counter the action in any way short of passing future legislation to make it illegal.
We have been heavily involved in taking this battle head on; first with the DBPR, concurrently dealing with members of the legislature on crafting legislation and finally in the courts. We hit a brick wall in dealing with the DBPR directly. The lawsuit is ongoing.
Now, with the governor recognizing and making it known in no uncertain terms that he wants to see an end to this nonsense, we believe the legislative ‘fix’ has much more momentum. This hopefully will be a quicker resolution to the problem and certainly a less expensive one than doing battle in court.
It’s not everyone that got a Christmas present from the governor this week.
December 13, 2011
Most of us in the horse business are optimists; to a fault some would say. It is a personality trait that comes with the territory. But we all look toward the next foal, the next two-year-old or maybe the next race as our next source of excitement or income. But whether you make your living in the Thoroughbred industry or it’s simply your passion, it has been difficult to be encouraged lately. The general economy has taken its toll as well as factors within our specific industry. Then, if there wasn’t enough to worry about there is barrel racing! We’ve all been beat up lately, and for too long.
So I’d like to share some of my optimism and excitement with you; maybe lift your spirits just a little.
Most of you understand all too well that what happens in Tallahassee effects many aspects of our industry. Since having the privilege of being in this position I have learned how much our association relies on two people outside of the organization that operate within this arena.
Warren Husband is our legal representation. He helps us weave through the legislative process by interpreting proposed legislation and advising of its potential effects on us. As well, we charge him with writing the legislation when we have an agenda to put forward. Warren is also our advocate in law suits such as the Gretna barrel racing litigation that is ongoing. He is a quiet, unassuming man; both of which belie his talents and abilities.
In the few months of working closely with Warren I have been impressed at every turn. Not only are his knowledge and legal acumen top notch but he is very savvy to the maze which is the legislative process and weaves through it with aplomb. One of the more impressive experiences (which I have had now on several occasions) is to be on a conference call with industry/association leaders, lobbyists and attorneys and listen to the deference given to Warren. They want to know what he thinks before they formalize an opinion; and if he isn’t present on the call, they will defer to wait for his opinion. These are people who have been down these roads before and know the value of a well thought out strategy.
Another strong asset that our association has is our lobbyist, Matt Bryan. Like Warren, he has been with us a long time, through many battles, and has never failed to serve our needs well and with tremendous loyalty. I assure you, we have doors opening, ears listening and actions taken in Tallahassee that would not if it weren’t for Matt’s efforts and the strength of his relationships.
Like Warren, Matt makes himself available at all times. He is responsive to requests but doesn’t hesitate to advise if he disagrees or thinks strategy needs tweaking; in other words he does exactly what we pay him for. It has pleased me greatly to learn that we have such talented advocates working on our behalf and I would be remiss if I didn’t give Dick Hancock credit for bringing them on board.
On a final note, in less than a month, Lonny Powell will be joining us to add a fresh face to the team and I am very excited about his abilities as well. While still working in Arizona, Lonny has made a tremendous effort to stay up to date with our issues and offer input. In November he took a week of vacation time to meet the members of the board of directors and spend two days in Tallahassee with Matt, Dick Hancock and myself. This was a great effort which will allow him to hit the ground running when he arrives in Ocala on Jan. 6th.
I lied, this is the final note. In November your board of directors voted to hold a general meeting in January in response to the request from the October general meeting. Certainly a major purpose of this meeting will be to introduce Lonny officially (although I know he plans to meet many of you prior to that) and communicate to you other association information. The date, time and place will be announced soon but will be in conjunction with the January sale.
November 15, 2011
For the last few weeks a topic has been at the forefront of my mind. That topic is unity. The reason for it being ever present in my mind is that I’ve been immersed for the past several weeks in the ‘barrel racing scandal’ that has been perpetrated upon Florida horse racing by several individuals and their allies. This attempt by a few individuals for their own self enrichment is at the expense of our sport and livelihoods.
Accompanying this President’s Report is an article prepared by Michael Compton which summarizes this situation. I’ve made several attempts at a summary in the week leading up to this report but the information and events are flowing so rapidly that I would find the summary inadequate the day after I wrote it. In spite of that, I feel our membership needs this information presented in as coherent a manner as possible. Please keep in mind that the situation is very fluid, changing almost every day.
This situation has made it painfully clear to me how a small consortium can disrupt the lives of tens of thousands of people in our state, within our industry. The intention of this group is to exploit loopholes and bend the rules for their personal gain with total disregard for the livelihood of others.
These men that have postured themselves throughout their careers to be in a position where they can exploit loopholes, bend rules, and massage the right people for their personal gain while disrupting the livelihood of others.
We have great people in our camp taking this head on. We have also aligned ourselves in this fight with horsemen’s groups that are equally committed to seeing this defeated; the FHBPA, the FQHRA, the United Horsemen of Florida, the FSBOA, the AQHA and the FQHBRA. By uniting our resources, both political and financial, we hope to win this fight and not allow these few people to destroy the race horse industry in the state of Florida. I believe the strength exhibited by a unified front will prevail in this situation as it can in many battles.
I look at our own organization and think of remarks I’ve heard about it being ‘fractured’ and ‘broken.’ I have always contested that opinion.
We have issues to address, improvements to make and new ideas to implement. We have disagreements within about how some of that should occur, as does every organization I have ever belonged. But we also have an association filled with members of like goals and like needs. That builds unity. We need that unity to keep the wolves from our door; and they are pushing in from all sides.
This is not an attempt to minimize some of the internal issues that some members feel we have. But what is paramount is that as we work through those issues we don’t lose sight of the fact that we all gain strength by unifying through our common goals. I can tell you that our foes love to witness discontent and are conniving enough to foment it. You have a board of directors committed to making this organization better and stronger and representative of all of its membership; and to keeping the wolves from the door.
October 22, 2011
It has always been my belief that challenges are disguised opportunities. If I’ve been correct, I’ve walked into a tremendous opportunity with my new post at the FTBOA.
Last year brought many changes and Fred Brei led that charge. This year will see at least as many, and I hope to give them all a positive direction.
It is a high priority of mine that we can move toward increased unity within this organization. I envision that happening through better and more communication between the board of directors and the membership; addressing the election process and making the entire board a more informed and responsive body.
We have legislative challenges ahead, economic issues threatening the existence of individual members and the organization and competitors that are pushing in from all sides. These are all battles that can be won, and a unified, strong organization will help ensure that.
I am excited about Lonny Powell coming on board and I know everyone will be, too, once we start to see results. I ask the dissenters of the decision to hire him to give him a fair chance; that’s all Lonny will need from you.
I was asked at the annual meeting what our priorities were during our search and in making our hire of a new executive vice president. I answered; “Strong communication skills, strong administrative skills, a thorough understanding of the Thoroughbred industry, a capable negotiator and someone familiar with the legislative process.”
It is my firm belief that Lonny brings this wide range of experience and knowledge with him. These skills are important because it is through him that we will continue to repair what is broken, provide better transparency and take a unified FTBOA forward to the benefit of all the members.
Challenges are opportunities. I plan to prove the old adage correct.