Emergency responders, NTRA to receive Special Eclipse awards

Posted: Jan. 13, 2018

Two Special Eclipse awards will be presented Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park: one for all responders who assisted in assisting racehorses involved in the San Luis Training Center fire in Southern California and the 800 horses stranded after a hurricane in Puerto Rico, and the other to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association for “dedicated and persistent efforts to benefit horseplayers.”

The Eclipse Awards dinner will be held in the Sport of Kings Theatre at the Florida racetrack and televised live beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern time on TVG.

The California Horse Racing Board reported that 46 horses died as a result of the wildfire, and nine barns at the training center owned by The Stronach Group were destroyed. About 250 horses were transferred to Del Mar, which provided sanctuary for more than 800 animals impacted by the fire.

The response by the racing community in terms of boots on the ground to assist in the effort was phenomenal, and more than $650,000 was raised through a GoFundMe website.

In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria left all 3.4 million residents without power and destroyed Camarero racetrack. Pens for about 90% of the 1,100 Thoroughbreds on the property lost their roofs and, because of the impact of the storm on humans, the horses had no caretakers, food, or clean water.

The effort to help the horses was spearheaded by Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare, in particular Kelley Stoble and Shelley Blodgett.

The NTRA, after several years of lobbying, was successful in getting regulatory changes that modernized federal income tax regulations it said “depressed pari-mutuel handle, reduced purses for horsemen and saddled horseplayers and tracks with onerous paperwork requirements.” The changes altered the withholding and reporting of pari-mutuel winnings in the United States.

“The NTRA accepts this award on behalf of the many industry organizations and thousands of horseplayers who supported the effort by funding the NTRA’s legislative action campaign, supporting our Horse PAC with individual campaign contributions, joining the National Horseplayers Championship Tour, and actively engaging with the Treasury Department and the IRS during two critical regulatory comment periods by submitting over 15,000 supportive comments,” NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Waldrop said.

The Special Eclipse Awards Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from Daily Racing Form, the National Turf Writers And Broadcasters, Breeders’ Cup and the NTRA. The NTRA said it recused itself from any discussions relating to the Special Eclipse Award once its name was put forward for consideration.

Waldrop credited key allies of Thoroughbred racing on Capitol Hill, including Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, Rep. Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania, Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as NTRA lobbying firm The Alpine Group, led by principal Greg Means, for its work on the issue and racing-related matters in general.