THA reaffirms dues-paying support for NTRA and its initiatives

By: Tom LaMarra

March 17, 2017

The Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has reaffirmed its longtime financial support of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

The THA board of directors did so March 10 during its winter meeting, which was attended by NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Waldrop and Greg Means of The Alpine Group, which handles Washington, D.C., lobbying for the organization.

The THA has had seat on the board of directors since the NTRA launched in 1998.

“While the NTRA has changed over the years, I think it is doing the best it has ever done,” THA Chairman Alan Foreman said. “We’re going to do whatever we can to support the NTRA.”

The NTRA, when it was created, embarked on a national advertising campaign and focused on expanding Thoroughbred racing’s presence on television. But the concept of a league office for horse racing never materialized, some major dues-paying members defected, and the mission of the organization gradually evolved into advocacy.

The NTRA now focuses its attention on federal lobbying on behalf of the industry, the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, and the National Handicapping Championship and related contest tour.

“We took some small programs that were small and made them large,” Waldrop said.

The NTRA for years has been working on modifications to the federal tax code that deals with pari-mutuel wagering, and late last year the United States Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service issued updated regulations related to withholding and reporting of winnings. The proposed language clarifies the amount of a wager—the entire amount bet by a player into a single pool, not the base amount of the wager, would determine how much winnings are withheld and reported.

The NTRA has said the changes could add tens of millions of dollars to pari-mutuel pools through “churn” because horseplayers would keep more of their winnings.

A public comment period on the proposed rules runs through March 30. Waldrop said more than 4,000 comments have been submitted, and he’d like to see more.

“Every indication we have so far is that it’s going to be made final and not going to be tinkered with,” Waldrop said of the proposed language. “We’ve also been meeting with the four major tote providers to makes sure everyone will operate under the same rules.”

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Treasury)