President's Message - December 22, 2011
Seasons Greetings to the members of the WHBPA:
I would like to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or a peace-filled Holiday season.
I apologize for the lack of ongoing reporting; I have been busy with a number of projects and a few of my intended good intentions to get a message out over the last couple of months have come and gone. So, I will try to ‘play a little catch-up’ today, but, I will try to remain deferential to those that I terrorize by being too wordy.
Since my last communication with you a number of things have gone on: we held our Annual Meeting, the Emerald Downs meeting ended in September, a lawsuit involving one of our members has been resolved, and we are at work trying to make some differences in our industry on the local level.
First off, we had a very good Annual Meeting, with an excellent level of participation from our members. I am sure that the ‘good grub’ on hand may have contributed to coaxing a few folks out there, but we had a quality group more than make our quorum, and ask a number of good questions, and offer a number of opinions. Ron and Wanda Crockett were present, and Ron Crockett answered some questions and made a brief presentation.
The Emerald Downs meeting in 2011 showed a financial loss for the track, as well as many of us, I am sure, but the losses for ownership were better than those of 2010. Attendance was up significantly for the year, and we can hope that the trend will continue into the coming years. We need ‘butts in the seats’ trying their hand at making a buck at the windows to assist both the continuing fortunes of the racetrack as well as the purse accounts. As in recent years, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe made a significant contribution toward enhancing our purses as part of the Economic Development agreement with the racetrack. We are very grateful for their much-needed assistance to our industry.
Due to ongoing litigation, I had not been able to report what I understood about a number of false facts alleged against one of our own. The successful conclusion of the lawsuit, brought by WHBPA member and Board Member Robbie Baze, now allows me to comment on that matter. Robbie’s good name had been, in his view and that of others, libeled and / or slandered by Serenity Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation, through a woman named Patricia Clark. Ms. Clark, in correspondence sent to the track, to me, published on her website, by word of mouth, and likely other means, alleged among other things, that Robbie Baze had committed animal abuse with respect to horses in his care. When the allegations were received, Jack Hodge on behalf of Emerald Downs, and MaryAnn O’Connell and I, on behalf of the WHPBA, conducted an investigation of them and found a number of holes and statements that had no back-up. No action was taken against Robbie, but as bells that are rung cannot be unrung, Robbie felt that as “word of mouth” spread at the track, hurting his reputation and business, that he had to file suit. Shortly prior to trial, the case settled, with Robbie being paid an undisclosed amount, and with Serenity and Patricia Clark admitting that they published material that was inaccurate and without evidence to support the allegations made.
Justice was served. My sympathies on this experience go to Robbie and Bonnie Baze, who had to battle in the legal world to restore their name. However, as the racetrack is full of storylines and rumors that are false, and people at the racetrack seem to relish in gossip without actual fact behind it, please feel encouraged to adequately gossip this one up: Robbie was accused of acts for which he sued, and was paid to right the wrong. If you are person who passed on the bad information about Robbie, due your soul some justice and pass along the right information.
At the current time, there are a few initiatives that we are undertaking related to trying to enhance our horse population during the summer meet, looking at handle, and addressing the current situation with the Department of Labor and Industries. This week in fact, a joint letter by Emerald Downs, the WHBPA, and the Washington Breeders and Owners Association went out to the head of Labor and Industries to do what we can to hold the 2012 rates as low as possible. We will see where that leads us and report to you as it flushes out.
NOW, for the good news. We know our move in dates for Emerald Downs. As last year, the meet with be starting in mid-April and will be ending near the end of September. We are happy to let you know that training will begin February 1, and that Horseman can begin moving in on the 30th of January, a Monday. We will advise you as we learn more.
That is it for now. I wish each of you a Healthy, Prosperous, and Happy New Year.