Reads Address To NASRC, Daily Racing Form, 1953-06-12


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ROBERT 0 READ President of the Horsemens Benevolent and Protective Association who delivered an address on various phases of racing at Wednesdays NASRC session READS ADDRESS TO NASRC The text of the address given by Robert O Read president of the Horsemens Be ¬ nevolent and Protective Association at Wednesdays session of the National Asso ¬ ciation of State Racing Commissioners fol ¬ lows lowsIn In speaking here today I consider my I self honored and privileged to have the op ¬ portunity of discussing with you certain problems that stand high in the minds of the thoroughbred owners and I appreciate the courtesy you have shown my organiza ¬ tion the HBPA in extending us the invita ¬ tion It is particularly satisfying to our organization to have this convention here in Boston for this city is the hub from which our activities stem since it is the location of our national office I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to visit our national offices and see our organization in operation For the benefit of the new commissioners I would like to briefly review the growth of the HBPA during the past decade Our organization is a relatively new one having been informed here in New England on the 24th day of September 1940 with a group of owners and trainers of less than 40 in number and the organization was first known as the Horsemens Retirement Fund The charter of that organization was amended in February of 1941 and the name changed to the Horsemens Benevolent and Protective Association At the f irst meeting of this organization held in Providence Rhode Island there were approximately 100 members present Our membership has now grown to more than 13000 and is rep ¬ resented in 17 geographical divisions divisionsHow How Divisions Operate OperateEach Each of these divisions is headed by a divisional vicepresident and the affairs of each division are conducted by a board of directors consisting of 10 members and the vicepresident The boards of directors are composed of not less than three nor more than five owners and the balance of such board is composed of ownertrainers Our national board of directors is composed of the vicepresidents of each of the geo ¬ graphical divisions along with the national president adviser to the president and general counsel Our divisions are inde ¬ pendent and autonomous the divisional of ¬ ficers exercising a complete executive au ¬ thority for the conduct of the affairs of their division None of our officers is sal ¬ aried and their only remuneration is the satisfaction they receive out of making a real contribution to the racing industry industryThe The main purpose of the HBPA is in my opinion well stated in our constitution where it is set forth that we shall institute or aid in any movement that will improve and protect the general welfare of the rac ¬ ing industry to bring a closer and more understanding relationship between horse ¬ men racing associations racing commis ¬ sioners and the public publicDistributed Distributed Million From Benevolent Fund FundSince Since the establishment of the HBPA we have distributed more than one million dollars from our benevolent funds During the past year approximately 110000 was spent among our members to help defray the costs of burials medical and hospital ization expenses In addition to this sum 60000 was spent for direct relief in areas that had been struck by disastrous stable fires Our association has assumed the com ¬ plete responsibility for the welfare of those persons in the industry who have been stricken by illness disaster or economic problems and there is no longer any need for persons associated with the industry to depend on public charity In my opinion the shouldering of this responsibility has been of the tremendous assistance in over ¬ coming local prejudices against racing as a result of the tremendous amount of unfa ¬ vorable publicity that followed in the wake of economic disaster sustained by persons employed in the industry in the larger cen ¬ ters of racing racingOur Our group has joined with other organi ¬ zations in the industry in the formation of The Jockey Club Foundation Home and the original proponents of this plan were members of our group and the formation of this corporation strikingly exhibits what can be done with a spirit of cooperation prevailing among the various groups in racing racingIn In addition to the benevolent work that we perform we have used our best efforts to improve conditions in the stable area improve the quality of racing officials de ¬ velop adequate purse distribution pro ¬ grams and work with legislative commit ¬ tees in the development of satisfactory satisfactoryContinued Continued on Page ThirtyNine READS ADDRESS TO NASRC Continued from Page Three Threetaxing taxing structures throughout the country We certainly recognize the contributions made to the racing industry by the TRA TRPB The Jockeys Guild American Trainers Association and your organiza ¬ tion However when we consider the over ¬ all progress that racing has made in the last decade I feel that the HBPA has been one of the preeminent groups in its en ¬ deavorsTenure deavors Tenure Usually Too Short ShortDuring During the seven years that I have been a national officer of the HBPA have ap ¬ peared before many of your commissions throughout the country During this time I have had an excellent opportunity to ap ¬ praise the work performed by your com ¬ missions and to note some of your short ¬ comings We recognize that many of you serve with little previous knowledge of or experience in the thoroughbred industry and that the memberships on the commis ¬ sions change with the political tides in your respective geographical areas Hence your tenure of office is usually too short for you to become expert in a relatively complicated field Until a man has owned or trained a thoroughbred spent considerable time on the backstretch paid the bills incident to the operation of even a most modest sta ¬ ble had some contact with the other seg ¬ ments of the industry such as the jockeys blacksmiths veterinarians managements grooms and exercise boys he cannot have but scarcely scratched the surface in re ¬ gard to having a working knowledge of the industry These comments remind me of a telephone call I had recently from a sports writer after the writer had learned of a new appointee to one or our commis ¬ sions His remark was It looks as if our governor wanted a doctor he would call a electrician Then he added the question Do you want to comment on the appoint ¬ ment Needless to say I made no com ¬ ment I am sure that many of you com ¬ missioners recognize this weakness in your own group and my admonition would tie to most carefully examine the problem before you and be sure that in its decision the con ¬ clusion reached does not unfairly affect the interest of the state you represent the management of a track the horsemen or any other allied groups of racing and foremost in your thinking should always be the question Does this decision contribute to the improvement the welfare and the growth of the worlds greatest and oldest sport sportHits Hits Increasing Taxation TaxationOne One of the principal problems that con ¬ cerns the racing industry today is that of constantly increasing taxation This is an area in which your members can perform a real service to racing by appearing bef ore your state legislatures and helping them develop equitable tax structures Certainly racing should contribute and substantially so to the cost of government but I feel that in many jurisdictions confiscatory taxes are being levied which can only lead to curtailment of its forward progress I believe your own committee on study of state revenue stated the problem concisely when the report such committee submitted to your San Francisco meeting included in part As far as the thoroughbred industry is concerned there was an increase of ap ¬ proximately 10 per cent in the purses as against the aforesaid 19 per cent in states revenue Meanwhile the cost of training and raising thoroughbred horses has in ¬ creased greatly as well as the living ex ¬ penses of the personnel attendant The national prosperity is certainly not re ¬ flected on the backstretches of the race tracks and it seems that purses must be raised if the horse owner is going to con ¬ tinue to be a patron of the sport Under the present system it is absolutely impos ¬ sible for a stable to break even except in the most fortuitous circumstances circumstancesOur Our association recognizes that the three branches of racing the state the manage ¬ ments and the horsemen are entitled to a fair and equitable division of the mutuel revenues In our opinion the governmental authority has taken advantage of the in ¬ dustry in fostering and enacting legislation that gives it an unfair share of the com ¬ missions and if this trend is not reversed it might well mark the beginning of the ex ¬ tinction of racing as we now know it When legislation of this type is introduced you gentlemen are given the opportunity of speaking out against in in the legislative committee hearings and in the public press I would implore you to so do for we can ¬ not allow further inroads to be made I recognize that many times the person who honored you with your appointment is also the party who is looking for new sources of revenue to meet his everincreasing bud ¬ get but certainly now is the time to call a halt and recognize your responsibility as the guardians of racing in your states statesAsks Asks Condition Books Be Submitted SubmittedAnother Another suggestion that I would like to make to you one that is now working quite well in several jurisdictions is that condi ¬ tion books be submitted to our purse com mittes for their examination and criticism before being approved by your commissions It is the contention of some racing associa ¬ tions that if the condition books are re ¬ leased reasonably in advance of the start of a meeting the horsemen are bound thereby even though they have had no op ¬ portunity to examine them prior to their issuance This position is untenable for it gives us no opportunity to discuss changes or improvements in a contemplated dis ¬ tribution and further I am sure you will agree that the right that a racing associa ¬ tion has to either grant or refuse stall space is a sufficient whip to force the ac ¬ ceptance of unsatisfactory conditions dur ¬ ing a meeting meetingOur Our association unqualifiedly recom ¬ mends that this suggestion be adopted nationally and we firmly believe that this procedure will be the means of avoiding j some of the disputes that in the past have led to interruptions of racing I recognize that this procedure is a relatively new idea and too many new ideas are too quickly discarded into the limbo of the forgotten without even being given a fair trial I recall the statement Charles Ket tering the genius of General Motors made on why ideas are killed Kettering says Man is so constituted as to see what is wrong with a new thing not what is right To verify this you have but to submit a new idea to a committee They will obliter ¬ ate 90 per cent of the rightness for the sake of 10 per cent wrongness The possi ¬ bilities that a new idea opens up are not fisualized because not one man in a thousand has imagination For a long time I have wondered why racing commis ¬ sioners track operators and members of our own association have been slow to accept new approaches to recognized prob ¬ lems and of course there are many rea ¬ sons but I think the one basic reason seems to be we dont have time to think Most of us make racing only a parttime endeavor although we certainly do try to make a contribution thereto I am sure that most of you are only able to serve your states at a sacrifice of time from some other occupation most track opera ¬ tors have other business interests that re ¬ quire most of their creative thinking time and I recognize all too well that our own association officers cannot Contribute an amount of time that is commensurate with the problems we have to cope with Our association respectfully suggests that you gentlemen further discuss this matter in your executive sessions and the develop ¬ ment of a plan along the line of this sug ¬ gestion can be one of the most progressive steps to come from this convention conventionTouches Touches on Distribution Policies PoliciesI I am going to run but of my allotted time in two or three minutes and I recognize your convention time Is most limited and I do not want to presume on your gracious ness but I want to make just a few re ¬ marks regarding purse distribution policies You will recall that I earlier herein quoted from your own committee on study of state revenue report of your convention of a year ago wherein such report stated It is impossible for a stable to break even except in the most fortuitous circumstances The report continued in Florida in 1951 for instance there were approximately 2500 horses These horses raced there for 162 days for 3375000 Cost of transportation to Florida is approximately 100 and train ¬ ing bills run above 12 a day Thus figuring onehalf million for transportation down and back and not counting gratuities etc is cost the horsemen 5360000 to race for 3375000 or a loss of 2000000 when it is considered some of the purses are re ¬ turned as entry fees and forfeits forfeitsI I do not mean to indicate that this sit ¬ uation is by any means peculiar to Florida it just so happened that your own commit ¬ tee used that example Our association has developed a rather comprehensive com ¬ parative schedule of the 54 major race tracks in the country and a study of our findings will disclose glaring variations be ¬ tween the distributions offered We found that some associations are distributing as much as 60 to 65 per cent of their take of the mutuel handle in purses while in other instances such distribution amounted to only 30 or 31 per cent I am sure that you gentlemen would agree with me if you had the benefit of the surveys and information with which we worked and you would re ¬ solve as we have resolved that such varia ¬ tions are not only unnecessary but are ab ¬ solutely inequitable It is more than a little humorous to be called upon by racing man ¬ agements as I have been to appear before legislative bodies to oppose unfavorable tax structures and to use the schedules I have mentioned and then to have the same managements fail to properly appreciate the variations in their distributions distributionsWe We all recognize that the operation of a racing stable is an extremely hazardous economic undertaking while to the best of my knowledge the ownership of share cer ¬ tificates in corporations operating the rac ¬ ing plants in many areas are 10 per cent investments on a highly inflated value when the original purchase price thereof is con ¬ sidered sideredI I do want to point out however that following the lead of the New York tracks tremendous improvement in the distribu ¬ tion schedules is readily noted in the New England area Michigan and Maryland while other areas particularly New Jersey Illinois and California are lagging far be ¬ hind in what we feel is the direction pointed out by our own committee I recommend that you obtain copies of these statistics from our national office we want to have you study them for we feel that such study will lead at least in part to a solution of a problem your committee so ably pointed out outIn In several instances where racing was interrupted threats emanated from your commissions that our members would have their licenses revoked if racing were not resumed post haste I sincerely recommend that you gentlemen endeavor to determine the merits of any such controversy before making such public utterances For we all recognize the need for better purses if rac ¬ ing is to continue to go forward and going forward is in one direction not in one di ¬ rection for one purpose such as a discus ¬ sion of a problem at a convention and in the opposite direction for another purpose such as a failure on your part to try to develop adequate purse distribution sched ¬ ules in your home areas The farther apart the spearheads of the opposing directions become the more vicious the circle and the more impossible the attainment of the de ¬ sired result Our association believes that a per ¬ centage formula is the fairest way to pro ¬ tect the interests of the state the opera ¬ tors and the horsemen We further stand for graduated distribution schedules de ¬ veloped along the rule better purses for better horses We further recommend that a study should be made of the recent sug ¬ gestion thatpurses be divided between the first five or six horses in a race rather than the first four as is now the custom customIn In closing I want to assure you that the HBPA hopes that the racing commissions of the several states will cooperate with us in our constant desire to keep the sport on the highest possible plane and we surely do solicit your suggestions and criticisms for the improvement of our association

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