Posted: 12/4/2003 4:00:00 PM ET
NTRA approves plan for summer-fall race series, chief security officer
A plan for a new televised series of summer and fall races along with the authorization of a chief security officer were among several measures approved by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors on Thursday.

During its fourth-quarter board meeting at the NTRA office in New York City, the NTRA board also reviewed and approved updated 2003 financial projections for its operations as well as approved a preliminary operating budget of $66,283,000 for the upcoming 2004 season.

The planned televised racing series would be a new incarnation of the former "NTRA Summer Racing Tour" and will feature the best races each day from racetracks around the country. The series would begin in June and conclude in early October with the final major prep races for the Breedersí Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

The programming schedule would expand from four hours to ten and shift from CBS to ABC/ESPN. Purses for a number of the races will be increased from prior years, in conjunction with a significant increase in the Breedersí Cup Stakes Program (from approximately $6-million to $7.8-million). Final details, including participating tracks, sponsors, and specific races will be announced early next year.

The NTRA authorized the hiring of a chief security officer from a slate of three finalists for the position. The person to fill the position will be named in mid-December.

The reviewed and approved 2003 financial projections included an operating revenue of $59,110,411, non-operating income of $104,018, and expenses of $59,248,182 for the year. Included in the operating expenses were approximately $9-million for television, $6-million for sponsorship/group purchasing, $18.2-million for marketing, $19.8-million for purses and awards, $5.1-million for general and administrative, and $1-million for legislative and regulatory purposes.

Total net revenues after contributions associated with the Wagering Technology Working Group were $320,146.

While finalization of 2004 operating budget is scheduled for the boardís first-quarter meeting in February, preliminary operating expenses of $65,713,000 were approved along with combined non-operating and extraordinary expenses of $70,000 for projected net revenues of $500,000.

The NTRA also received notification that New York Racing Association Chairman Barry Schwartz will replace former NYRA President Terry Meyocks as the organizationís representative on the NTRA board. Meyocks resigned in September as part of a major restructuring within the organization.

The NTRA also approved endorsement of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act and received updates on initiatives by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium to establish uniform medication policies, marketing, sponsorship, group purchasing, medications, legislative matters, and the associationís political action committee.

The board of directors will hold a two-day planning retreat in late February 2004 in conjunction with its first-quarter meeting for the year.