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Emerald Downs

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe

Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association

Washington Horse Racing Commission

President's Message - December 2009

Greetings to the members of theWHBPA. Tis the season!

The Holidays are upon us now, as the late Thanksgiving made way to an immediate transition at our house, which had me spend the better part of two days on a ladder putting lights up on the house and on trees in our yard, all in an attempt to please my dear wife, who loves Christmas like a kid.

One of my promises in the election past was to improve our communications with you. Our office staff has attempted to contact each member of theWHBPA to see if we might be able to obtain an email address for you, so that we can enhance our communication with you. We started with only about 115 addresses on our email listing, and now have nearly 650 email addresses for our members. Since some email addresses cover married couples of which both parties may be licensed, and thus individual members, we are hopeful that our “e-mailings” will reach more than the 650 email addresses that we have.

Additionally, and we will provide you a separate announcement when it is ready, but we are preparing to have a new and separate website for ourWashington HBPA from that presently used as hooked to the National HBPA. I believe that the current website situation is inadequate, and that our new website, intended: 1) to keep you current on what we are doing; 2) to provide you with more information on our local industry, and content regarding our HBPA, such as posted by-laws and minutes of meetings of the board; and 3) the schedule of events ahead for theWashington industry and the HBPA, will be a big improvement. I am very hopeful that we will be able to announce the launch of this website by the first of the New Year.

To keep you up to date on what is transpiring with your WHBPA and your industry, I am providing you with a brief summary of what is going on, either factually or from my perspective.

To date, your board has had two meetings.

The first was an introductory meeting, wherein our board came together to meet with each other, and learn about what a board is and what it is that it does. Important among that was ensuring that everyone understands, both board and our membership alike, that under our by-laws, no board member has any individual power independent of the whole of the board, to include the president. We want all of our membership to understand that, other than emergency conditions at Emerald Downs affecting the safety of equine and humans, the board must work together and in a deliberative fashion to initiate discussion and then effect changes, if any, to “status quo” matters. So please understand that when you button-hole one of us, and convince us of the need you advocate, that board member is unable to immediately effect any change without a board action.

As part of that meeting, we also named our vice-president, Jack Fabulich, as well as our committee members. The following summarizes the committees that were put in place for the 2010 year:

  • Our Finance Committee will be chaired by Keith Swagerty and he will work with Jack Fabulich, as well as Ron Maus.
  • Our Condition Book Committee will be chaired by Frank Lucarelli, who will work with Sue Spooner, BlaineWright, and Terry Gillihan.
  • Our Legislative Committee will be chaired by Pat LePley. He will be assisted by Sue Spooner, Jack Fabulich, and MaryAnn O’Connell.
  • Our Track and Safety Committee will be chaired by Robbie Baze, with assistance from Blaine Wright and Terry Gillihan.
  • Finally, our By-Laws Committee will be chaired by Pat LePley, and he will work with Ron Maus.

We discussed items that will shape our year’s efforts, to include a focus on issues relating to a “renewal of the industry”, our condition book, increasing communication with our members, defining the roles of our staff, and looking at updating our by-laws. Our meeting was collegial and I believe that our board members, both the new and returning ones, care about the industry and will work on our members’ behalf to improve that which we can.

Our second meeting took place on December 3. It was called to discuss issues relating to the “renewal of the industry.” Our focus is on two areas which are critical to the health of the industry: the importance of the wager, which funds our purses; and the importance of the owner, which employs the trainers, and purchases, through claim or sale, the equine athletes which are the backbone of “the show.” Our board members identified a number of ideas which we will be sifting through, in an attempt to find those which are both practical and potentially useful in helping to improve our collective
situation. As more is flushed out in these directions, we will both inform you and ask you for assistance in developing additional ideas, or in implementing those which we find most appealing.

As I prepare this, I have just attended, along with our Executive Director, MaryAnn O’Connell, the National HBPA winter convention in Tucson. It was very interesting to be the “new kid on the block” here, but I was instantly credentialed in the eyes of many, because I was there with her. I heard nothing but praise for MaryAnn in Tucson; it is clear that she has a position of great trust in the National HBPA, being made part of several key committees to include the “affiliate dues taskforce,” co-chairing the “benefit providers committee,” the “convention committee,” the “education committee,” the “medication committee,” and the “model rules committee.” She remained in Tucson after I departed to
attend the annual Consortium put on by the University of Arizona’s School of Racetrack Management, to ensure that she is apprised of everything that is occurring in the industry that may either have direct impact upon us, or items that will be brought to the attention of our Racing Commission for their consideration.

I have attended sessions with respect to the Budget, Dues, and Investment Committee, The Horseman’s Journal, National Insurance, a Fan Perspective Forum,Wagering and Alternative Gaming, Medication, the Executive Committee, and finally, a meeting of the Full Board to wrap up the event. I spent four days out of my personal calendar between the travel to and from Tucson and the meetings; while it is a drag to miss work and leave home at the holidays (and to travel with a severe head cold), I certainly benefited from the exposure to the persons present and the broad educational topics covered. I even heard something that made me very hopeful with respect to improving some portion of the future
economics of the industry, even during this period of challenge.

There are a number of issues of concern being discussed nationally, and the state and national HBPA chapters work at creating and keeping a voice in matters of importance to horsemen. Among items relating to the meetings are issues involving a study proving the efficacy of furosemide (known as Salix - or previously as Lasix), jockey weight increases (which were supported), jockey minimum pay scales (which were adamantly opposed), upcoming insurance opportunities for horsemen, regulatory updates, and reports on the economics of the industry.

Enjoy the Holidays! Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Festivus, the end of the year brings opportunity to be reflective and thankful for our blessings, and the New Year brings an opportunity to resolve to better that which we do. We will be making an effort to do so at the Washington HBPA.

Ron Maus

If you have comments or questions, I can be reached at ron@buffalostables.com.


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