October 18, 2019
Board Members Present: Melodie Bultena, Pam Christopherson, Jim Engstrom, Mary Lou Griffin, Dana Halvorson, David Israel, Greg Luce, Debra Pabst, Jennifer Webber (phone).
Board Members Absent: Nina Hagen, Dr. Duane Hopp, Petra Lewin.
Guests Present: Joe LaDuca, Ralph Vacca
Staff Present: M. Anne Sweet.
The meeting was called to order at 12:35 p.m. at the WTBOA offices by President Halvorson.
Previous Board Minutes: Minutes from the September 6, 2019, meeting were presented and reviewed. Bultena moved to approve the minutes as presented. Pabst seconded the motion. The minutes were approved as presented.
Washington Racing Hall of Fame: Former WTBOA General Manager Ralph Vacca and Washington Thoroughbred Editor Joe LaDuca were in attendance to request that the WTBOA Board of Directors write a letter to Emerald Downs President Phil Ziegler regarding the induction of Morris J. “Morrie” Alhadeff into the Washington Racing Hall of Fame. They felt that Alhadeff’s omission from the Hall of Fame was viewed as an oversight by those, both within and outside of the industry, who are knowledgeable about Alhadeff’s numerous contributions and his lifetime of achievements related to the local, regional, and national Thoroughbred industry. Various Board members noted that they were in agreement. It was also noted that Alhadeff had been a friend to the breeders and that his induction would be good for the industry. The induction selection process was also discussed, along with some possible restructuring suggestions for the selection process. After discussion, Bultena moved and it was seconded by Israel that a letter should be written from the WTBOA Board to Ziegler requesting that Alhadeff be inducted into the Washington Racing Hall of Fame. The motion was approved.
A letter, signed by Halvorson, was mailed to Ziegler, along with other historical documentation, on October 24, 2019. After receiving no response, Sweet reached out to Ziegler via email on November 14-15, 2019, in which Ziegler stated the following: “I understand both sides in this and again it’s not something I vote on. He [Morrie] was the one who spoke and was quoted when the track sold and I believe some of those comments are why there is opposition.” Also, in a separate email, “I really have no opinion either way. After I received the letter from Dana I asked around and heard about the resentment from the sale. I see both sides.” Sweet expressed the Board’s continued desire that Alhadeff be inducted into the Hall of Fame and offered that the WTBOA staff is always available to help provide details and historical context for his accomplishments if needed.
Finance Committee Report: Treasurer Pabst reported that the 2020 budget was currently being reviewed. The sale had been good with positive results. All horses have been paid for, along with most of the outstanding fees.
It was noted that $34,500 was paid out in 2019 for the Sales Incentive Program (SIP), leaving a remaining balance of $7,878 for 2019, plus $13,700 generated thus far in SIP nomination payments for 2020. A few more SIP nominations may still trickle in.
A total of $7,000 was paid out for the Washington Homebred Incentive Program (WaHIP), with a remaining balance of $5,971.
Northwest Race Series (NWRS): The fees have been raised $25 across the board, with the exception of the one-time yearling payment, which was raised $50. It was noted that the fees had not been raised for a number of years. The additional fee will be an administrative handling fee.
Stallion Season Auction: All were reminded to continue working on the Stallion Season Auction, which will provide additional needed funding for SIP. Board members were encouraged to contact those farms they have a connection to regarding stallion season donations. The new incentives are as follows:
- $2,500/$1,000 Stallion Season Auction Bonuses – Those stallions achieving the top five highest-selling seasons will be automatically entered into the Tier 1 Drawing. The winning stallion drawn will receive a bonus in the amount of 50 percent of their final season-bid amount up to a maximum of $2,500. All other stallions whose seasons sold will be automatically entered into the Tier 2 Drawing. The winning stallion will earn a bonus in the amount of 50 percent of their final season-bid amount up to a maximum of $1,000. Both drawings will be held on the evening of the Washington Annual Awards Banquet on Saturday, February 22, 2020. All Tier 1 stallions, including the names of the farms where they stand, will be featured in the Awards Banquet program, as well as in the Champions issue of Washington Thoroughbred magazine. Bonus amounts will be paid to the stallion owner. (Final bid amounts will not be made public.)
- Three-year-old Race Supplement (Two Divisions) – All progeny of the 2020 breeding season of stallions whose seasons sold during the online auction will be eligible to run for a bonus of $1,000 or greater in each of two three-year-old stakes to be run at Emerald Downs in 2024. Comparable races in 2019 were the $50,000 Seattle Slew Stakes (colts and geldings) and the $50,000 Irish Day Stakes (fillies), both run at 1 1/16 miles. The bonus(es) will be paid to the winning owner(s) of the eligible horse(s).
Staffing Update: Staff member Tara Homfeldt had turned in her resignation, as she will be relocating to Arizona. Her last day will be Wednesday, October 23, 2019. After discussion at the earlier Executive/Finance Committee meeting, it had been decided to make the administrative assistant position a part-time position and/or perhaps to look into contract labor. It was noted that Homfeldt had been a key person for Awards Banquet procurements, as well as the party planning part of the banquet event. In addition, it was noted that staffer Susan van Dyke intends to drop to two-thirds time as of January 1.
There was discussion about the need to prioritize services. Engstrom pointed out that we would be losing half of our labor model. A meeting was scheduled for Thursday, October 24, 2019, to discuss and target what the organization “must have,” what we would “like to have,” and/or what we “can’t have” or needs to be pared down.
Sales Committee Report: Sweet read notes provided by Chairman Webber, who was on the phone but unable to report due to illness and having no voice. Bullet points included:
- Stallion Season Auction Incentives (see above).
- Overall the bedding change provided substantial savings to consignors and savings via labor to the WTOBA. A less dusty alternative, as well as bulk delivery, will be looked at for next year.
- Finances permitting, there will not be a charge for stall cleaning next year.
- Still working on food trucks or other on-site food alternative for next year. If anyone has connections with local Lions or Kiwanis Clubs, please check with them.
- Beginning next year there will be a $500 minimum (“upset price”) on mixed and paddock session horses.
- Emerald Downs is hoping to have wi-fi available in the barn area next year.
Publications Report: Sweet reported that the Calendar and Stallion Register were in progress. Per discussion, it was decided that the calendar creates good will and is a nice gesture to provide to new and renewing WTBOA members. It also pays for itself with sponsorships. In addition, spots will be available this year to recognize family, friends, and/or equine honorees. It had previously been decided that the Fall issue of the magazine would be an online-only issue. Due to the staffing changes, it has now been decided to combine the Fall issue with the Stallion Register to create a joint Fall/Winter Stallion Register issue.
Economic Impact: Per request from Emerald Downs President Phil Ziegler, economic impact figures were reviewed and updated where possible.
Washington Horse Racing Commission (WHRC)/Emerald Downs Report: Sweet reported on the October 11, 2019 WHRC meeting. Ziegler had reported that Emerald Downs had a pretty good season. Overall the handle was up, although on track it was down, and the horse population was down. Next year Emerald plans to have only two or three-day weekends. As in the past, they will not have Friday racing early in the meet and they will also drop some Fridays at the end of the meet. They plan to have the same number of races, but they will have four less race days, with 63 days instead of 67 days. They will open and close on the same weekends as in 2019, and they hope that consolidating race days will have a positive effect on field sizes. He noted that most tracks across the country are trying to consolidate days. He also noted that they are limited by statute to a maximum of 11 races per day. It was anticipated that the stakes schedule would be a duplicate of last year’s stakes schedule.
WHBPA President Pat LePley reported that they are looking at wagering dollars and the number of horses. The horse population was consistently down by 60 to 70 horses this year compared to last year. They were looking at ways to stabilize the horse population. They are still watching what is happening with the national horse racing bill and sports betting and are talking to Washington legislators about these issues. There will be a horsemen’s meeting with management after the Breeders’ Cup in early November.
WHRC Executive Secretary Doug Moore reported the Breeders’ and Owners’ Bonus checks should tentatively go out the first week in November. Bonus awards from Advance Deposit Wagering were up 5.13 percent. However, the Breeders’ Award fund from on-site exotic wagers at Emerald Downs was down 14.58 percent. The Owners’ Bonus fund held almost steady, down just 1.68 percent.
2020-22 Election Ballot Counting: Griffin volunteered to count ballots with staff. [Ballot counting was held on Monday, November 11, 2019, with Griff, Pabst, and staffer van Dyke. Incumbents Christopherson, Engstrom, Hopp, and Luce were re-elected to the WTBOA Board. Incumbents Bryson Cooper and Hagen were re-elected to the Sales Committee.]
Promotional Video: Lewin reported that she had been in touch with Emerald Downs Director of Media Relations Vince Bruun. He was on vacation, but they will connect upon his return. A one to two minute video length has been suggested. They will review Emerald’s video library for content. Emerald has film that was taken at Dunn Bar Ranch, and they may have or be able to get film of mares and foals at El Dorado Farms.
Next Meeting Date: The next meeting was scheduled for Friday, December 6, 2019. Sweet will communicate with WHBPA Executive Director MaryAnn O’Connell to try and coordinate this as a joint meeting with the WHBPA. Lunch will be planned with the joint meeting to follow. There will be an Executive/Finance Committee meeting on the same date at 11 a.m. [The joint WTBOA/WHBPA meeting is scheduled for Friday, December 6, at noon. Lunch will be provided for all in attendance.]
Other Business: Pabst reported on the Washington Broodmare Club. The colt from the club’s broodmare is currently being broken. They had 24 members in the club, although they really needed 30 members. Pabst has absorbed the additional costs. She noted that she wouldn’t recommend the broodmare club, as it required too long a period of time. The cost for members was $500 per person per year to raise the foal and get it to the races.
Israel suggested an Ambassador of Racing Award be added at the annual Awards Banquet. This would be given to an individual who gives freely of themselves, bringing new people into racing and promoting the game.
It was moved by Griffin and seconded by Pabst to adjourn the meeting. Motion carried and the meeting was adjourned at 2:35 p.m.
December 6, 2019, Meeting Minutes
Pending approval at next meeting
Tuesday, January 21, 2020