Posted: Nov. 29, 2016
Rick Violette Jr., President of both the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and NYTHA, was honored for his contributions to New York racing by the Albany Law School at its Saratoga Institute on Equine, Gaming & Racing Law in August in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Violette, a longtime New York trainer, has served as NYTHA president since 2008.
“If there was a Hall of Fame for those who work in the trenches, horsemen probably would elect Rick Violette as the first member of that Hall of Fame,” Alan Foreman, chairman of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said during a reception at the conference. “Rick is a gentleman; he’s quiet and has no ego. His family is the racing industry.
“They don’t make people like Rick Violette anymore. All he cares about is the health and welfare of horsemen and the horses they train.”
Violette is constantly active in both public and behind-the-scenes aspects of horse racing. As NYTHA president he is a member of the New York Racing Association board of directors and is widely recognized for his work in leading NYTHA through NYRA’s bankruptcy proceedings.
“I’m totally blown away by all of this,” Violette said after the presentation was made.
Violette began his career in the equine industry showing hunters and jumpers on the East Coast. He later began galloping racehorses part time and decided to remain based at the racetrack.
After serving as assistant to trainer Emile Allain at Woodbine in Canada, he moved to New York to assist trainer David Whiteley. He opened his own public stable in 1983 and since then has captured numerous graded stakes; Violette in his career has won more than 800 races, and his horses have total earnings in excess of $41 million.
Despite keeping a busy schedule on the training side, Violette through his role at NYTHA has been at the forefront of many programs and endeavors tied to the health and protection of New York Thoroughbred racing.
Violette has served as chairman of the New York Jockey Injury Compensation Fund for more than a decade; was active in negotiating the horsemen’s share of video lottery terminal revenue at NYRA racetracks; has advocated for backstretch improvements; pushed for the reorganization and strengthening of the Backstretch Employee Service Team; and has fought for the preservation of winter racing at Aqueduct Racetrack.
He was also instrumental in pushing for the creation of the New York Task Force on Racehorse Health and Safety to investigate equine fatalities at Aqueduct during the 2011-12 racing season and the resulting implementation of the recommended reforms.
Violette facilitated a program by which NYTHA funded acquisition of state-of-the-art testing equipment for the New York Drug Testing and Research Program and, as a staunch advocate for equine welfare and safety, founded the TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program and TAKE THE LEAD Thoroughbred Retirement Program, which fall under NYTHA.