|THP Board Members Address Questions at
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:
- 3% of the purse accounts at the racetracks, and ,/li>
- 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
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.