Friday, January 19, 2001

Racetrack owner reaches a deal to return to NTRA

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — Racetrack owner Frank Stronach will let his seven tracks rejoin the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, in a deal contingent on changes to the NTRA and Breeders' Cup boards of directors.

        Mr. Stronach will join the NTRA board in a seat reserved for his Magna Entertainment Corp.'s tracks. Churchill Downs Inc., Magna's main rival and a major NTRA supporter, also will get a seat, as will the New York Racing Association.

        Four other seats will be reserved for other tracks, to be picked on a regional basis.

        In October, Mr. Stronach pulled his tracks, which include Santa Anita and Gulfstream, out of the NTRA. The move led a 22-track exodus, which has now grown to nearly 30 of the NTRA's 77 tracks. Mr. Stronach has advocated making the industry organization more democratic, among other things.

        Locally, Turfway Park in Florence, owned by a consortium of the Keeneland Association, Harrah's and GTech, is an NTRA affiliate.

        Other organizations that democratically select their board members, such as the Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association, the Thoroughbred Horseman's Association and the Thoroughbred Owners of California, will also have seats on the board. The Breeders' Cup would have seats on the NTRA board.

        The NTRA and the Breeders' Cup merged last year.

        The NTRA board was originally intended to have 15 seats; the ultimate size is apparently still in flux.

        Magna's track dues will add more than $1 million to the NTRA 2001 budget for ads, TV, promotions and lobbying.

        The NTRA agreed to pursue an aggressive revamping of racing regulations and taxes.

        There was no word on whether major Kentucky Derby prep races like the Florida Derby (March 10) and the Santa Anita Derby (April 7) will get on the air. But the Magna tracks will go back on the ESPN and ESPN2 spring schedule.


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