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1Local Affiliate News for Alabama HBPA

Alabama HBPA Finally Gets Contract With Track
3/25/2013 10:27:41 AM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 3/22/2013 4:21:24 PM Last Updated: 3/23/2013 9:29:32 AM

The Alabama Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and Jefferson County Racing Association have struck a deal on a one-year contract that could lead to a return of live horse racing to the state.

Much remains to be done, but the contract clearly represents the most progress made in Alabama since Birmingham Race Course ended Thoroughbred racing in the mid-1990s.

The JCRA, which owns Birmingham, continues to offer live Greyhound racing at the facility and offer full-card simulcasts. But some horsemen's groups have cut off their signals because revenue hasn't gone to Thoroughbred horsemen in Alabama. Pari-mutuel handle on horse racing simulcasts in Alabama dropped about $7 million from 2011 to 2012, according to the horsemen's group.

Alabama HBPA president Dr. David Harrington said the contract, signed March 20, includes Macon County Greyhound Park.

"We will work together in hiring a mutually agreed upon outside consultant to evaluate live racing issues and formats," Harrington said. "We anticipate that this will serve as a foundation for a good working relationship with JCRA in promoting Thoroughbred racing and a longer-term agreement."

The Alabama HBPA has no contract with Mobile Greyhound Park and Greenetrack, which offers full-card simulcasts of horse races. Harrington said he hopes the contract with the JCRA "may help open the door to negotiations with these two entities to ensure that the Thoroughbred horsemen are acknowledged for their product being presented at these facilities within Alabama."

In late February, Harrington said the Alabama HBPA and the JCRA had agreed to move forward in hiring a consultant to examine a live racing plan. He said the barn area at Birmingham is still there, as is the one-mile dirt track.

Message from President Dr. David Harrington
5/19/2012 12:35:23 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2012 

The Alabama HBPA’s board of directors held its spring meeting on March 4, 2012. Several resolutions were enacted to support the owners and trainers that participate in the Alabama-bred races and/or race Alabama-bred horses in open races. First, the Alabama HBPA will pay up to $500 per horse toward hauling expenses for horses finishing 4th through 12th in a restricted Alabama-bred race. Receipts for hauling expenses are mandatory for reimbursement. Second, any Alabama-bred horse (male or female) finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th in any open race held in the U.S. will be paid a bonus of $400, $300, $200, or $100, respectively. It will be the owner’s responsibility to inform the Alabama HBPA’s executive secretary, Nancy Delony, or second vice president, Gary House, when his or her horse meets one of the above listed criteria. Payment is retroactive to January 1, 2012.

In anticipation of The Magic City Classic, an Alabama stakes race historically held in late May or early June, the Alabama HBPA requested funding for the 2012 Thoroughbred races at the December 2011 Birmingham Racing Commission meeting. However at the March 21 Birmingham Racing Commission meeting, the Alabama-bred 2012 Thoroughbred races were not allocated any funding even though the Alabama-bred Quarter Horse race was allocated $50,000 from the fund, which contained over $200,000. One commissioner is seeking to rectify the lack of funding for the Alabama-bred Thoroughbred races.

We are working on the development of a web page. The web site is being prepared with the help of volunteers, as we are on a very limited budget. It should be up and running by the time you read this. Please bear with us as we continue to fine-tune the site. You can go to www.alhbpa.com to log in and stay updated on the horse racing news and events affecting the Alabama horsemen and horsewomen.

Court-ordered mediation between the Jefferson County Racing Association (JCRA) and the Alabama HBPA took place on April 25 with no results. With the loss of the Kentucky Derby signal, the Birmingham Race Course took the opportunity using local media to state, “Union Bosses Block Kentucky Derby.” A last ditch effort call for negotiations was made to the track owner/management, but the response was that they just did not think they could work anything out before Saturday.

On behalf of the Alabama HBPA, I would like to thank all of you for the support given us. We will continue to pursue negotiations with the JCRA and the return of live horse racing to Alabama.

General Meeting Held on October 15
11/21/2011 7:19:56 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2011 

For years, the Alabama HBPA had not held any general meetings. However, with the new administration, that is changing.

On October 15, 32 current and four new members attended the general meeting held in Mobile, Alabama. The meeting was upbeat, and we received positive feedback from both old and new members. As a result of the meeting, and a follow-up inquiry, the Birmingham Racing Commission website is back up and running, allowing horsemen a direct link to registration and Alabama-bred race nomination forms.

Still No Contract
11/21/2011 7:19:08 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2011 

As of this writing, the Alabama HBPA still does not have a contract with the Jefferson County Racing Association (JCRA), nor does it receive any monies from horse simulcasts revenue generated at the Birmingham Race Course.

Lawsuit Update
11/21/2011 7:18:27 PM  -  The Horsemen''''''''s Journal - Winter 2011 

Our lawsuit, Alabama HBPA vs. JCRA, is ongoing. For those of you who are not familiar with the three claims of the suit, they are listed below:

1. JCRA is in violation of Alabama State law in accepting wagers on simulcast racing when it conducts no live racing.

2. That JCRA is accepting simulcast wagers in violation of the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 as it does not have consent of the nearest track in an adjoining state to accept such wagers.

3. That JCRA has damaged the Alabama HBPA by its monopolistic practices in that it is the only entity authorized to conduct live racing in the State of Alabama, but refuses to do so.

We are working diligently for the return of live horse racing to Alabama.

Thank you all for supporting the Alabama HBPA.

Medical Clinic
11/21/2011 7:14:49 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2011 

The Medical Clinic is open again this year. It is open on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The clinic is open to all licensees and families.

Message from Executive Director Nancy M. Delony
8/22/2011 1:25:57 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2011 

What a difference an election makes! Since the election of President David Harrington and the new Alabama HBPA Board of Directors, the Birmingham Race Course (BRC) has recently put out a press release titled, “Live horse racing may return to Birmingham Race Course.” With the prospects of gaming in Alabama curtailed, horse simulcasting at the BRC and three dog racing facilities seems to be the main attraction keeping their doors open.

However, after 16-plus years of being the recognized representative of the Alabama horsemen and receiving payments from the BRC simulcasting revenues, we no longer have a contract with BRC, and the Alabama HBPA has not received payments from simulcasting revenues at the BRC or from the three dog racing facilities within Alabama. What gives here? How do we build up a purse account to help fund live racing? How do we make sure the Alabama horsemen and horsemen from surrounding states that have supported both the BRC and continue to support the Alabama HBPA are fully represented in the event of live racing? Numbers speak loudly.

Our annual membership meeting, the first in many years, is tentatively scheduled for the last weekend of August. Membership cards will be being mailed out before the meeting. In keeping with the qualifications approved by the National HBPA, one of the following three criteria for membership must be met. You must be:

1. A licensed owner or trainer of Thoroughbred horses which raced in Birmingham, Alabama in 1995
2. A licensed owner or trainer of Thoroughbred horses which have raced in the Alabama-bred races since 1995
3. An Alabama resident currently licensed and racing Thoroughbreds as an owner or trainer in the United States

If you or anyone you know meets any of the three above criteria and did not receive a ballot for our 2010 election, please contact either President David Harrington at david11953@bellsouth.net or (205) 664-9325 or myself, Nancy Delony, at nancy.m.delony@mssb.com or (205) 612-1999.

The Alabama HBPA will continue on in our efforts to open these doors with the BRC, the dog racing facilities, and the Birmingham Racing Commission. It has been a long, drawn out process to arrive at where we are today. The acknowledgement and support of the new Alabama HBPA board is greatly appreciated as we look forward to the possibility of live racing returning to Birmingham, Alabama.

Message from President Dr. David Harrington
5/21/2011 11:08:20 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2011 

I would like to thank the affiliates, officers, and chairman of the National HBPA for the warm welcome I received in Hot Springs, Arkansas at the National HBPA’s winter convention and for their support of the horsemen and horsewomen in Alabama. The resolution from the National HBPA recognizing the Alabama HBPA as an affiliate persuaded the Birmingham Racing Commission to recognize the newly elected officers and president as the horsemen’s representative.

The Alabama HBPA is continuing to pursue the return of live racing to Alabama. In Alabama, there are four tracks that simulcast Thoroughbred racing into their facilities and conduct pari-mutuel wagering on those races. As of today, none of the facilities have a contract with the Alabama HBPA, the horsemen’s representative in Alabama. One of the facilities handled $32.46 million in 2010 on horse simulcasting alone, and yet the Alabama HBPA has not received any payment since October of 2010.

In other news, we have 19 nominations for the Magic City Classic, a stakes race for Alabama-bred three year olds and up. The race will be contested at a mile and will be held at Evangeline Downs on May 28.

Looking Forward
2/18/2011 2:27:19 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2011 

With the court ordered special election behind us, the Alabama HBPA is looking forward to the future. We have met with the representatives of other horse organizations in the state and are working together to improve the equine industry statewide. Our ultimate goal is to return live horse racing to Alabama.

Working on Recognition Status
2/18/2011 2:26:37 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2011 

At the Birmingham Racing Commission meeting on December 16, 2010, the Alabama HBPA requested that it be provided with a letter stating that under the direction of its newly elected president and Board of Directors, the Alabama HBPA was recognized by the commission as the horsemen’s representative for the state of Alabama. That request was denied.

Soon thereafter, a letter from National HBPA President and Chairman Joe Santanna was sent to the chairman and executive director of the Birmingham Racing Commission stating that the National HBPA recognized the newly elected president and Board of Directors and urging the commission “to recognize the Alabama HBPA without reservation for all purposes, including but not limited to negotiating a fair and equitable share of the simulcasting revenues for the Alabama horsemen and women and work toward the return of live racing to Alabama.”

Trying to Work with Track Management
2/18/2011 2:25:29 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2011 

We, the Alabama HBPA, have not received any revenue from track management for the past six months. Written correspondence requesting payments have gone unanswered. The Alabama HBPA looks forward to working with track management in resolving this issue and is optimistic that we can work together to return live horse racing to Alabama.

Sotogenic Takes Kudzu Juvenile Stakes for Alabama-breds
2/18/2011 2:24:32 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2011 

The Kudzu Juvenile Stakes race for Alabama-bred juveniles was run at the Fair Grounds on December 10, 2010. Sotogenic, a filly by Soto owned by Daniel Bell and trained by Mark Guidry, won the race. Mr. Larry Goodwin was the breeder of the winner. B.G.’s Admiral and Royals Silver Lady ran second and third, respectively. They are trained by Mr. Clyde McKean, and the breeder of both horses is Mr. Bobby Pruitt.

Message from the President, Dr. David Harrington
12/2/2010 9:43:07 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2010 

Recently, a new set of dedicated and determined horsemen of the Alabama HBPA were successful in their quest to represent all of the members of the Alabama HBPA with a resounding electoral victory. Both Dr. David Harrington – who was elected president – and the new board, were overwhelmingly voted into office.

With this turn of events comes new challenges. The previous administration has turned over all remaining available funds to the new administration. There may be a temporary, but not permanent, lack of necessary funds to support our Alabama-bred races. Even so, the two-year-old race scheduled for December 10, 2010 at the Fair Grounds will be conducted.

The Birmingham Racing Commission recently granted $400,000 (of the over $1.5 million in the escrow fund) to the owner of the Birmingham Race Course to remodel the facility. The monies came from an escrow fund that was created in 1992 (and discontinued in 1997) for the funding of horse racing purses or horsemen’s benefits during live horse racing meets. These monies must be returned to the fund in the event live horse racing resumes in Alabama.

At the current time, the Birmingham Race Course conducts live dog racing and simulcasts horse and dog racing. The Alabama HBPA would like to see live horse racing return to Birmingham. The Board and I will work diligently toward that goal.

Special Election in Progress
5/31/2010 12:33:21 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2010 

The Alabama HBPA special election is in progress. Birmingham attorney Michael Walls is the court, appointed special master who is in charge of the election. He has asked each party to the 2006 lawsuit to submit a slate of candidates for president and the Board of Directors. A meeting has been called by the special master for the third week of May to review the candidates and other election issues.

While the special master has been given much leeway by the court, to date, his procedures do not conform with Alabama HBPA election bylaws. Nominations were not taken from the general membership, and no qualifications for office have been required to this point. Hopefully, issues can be resolved so the election can conform to affiliate standards.

2010 Alabama-Bred Races
5/31/2010 12:32:23 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2010 

Racing in 2010 for Alabama-bred Thoroughbreds will feature two races on June 19 at River Downs Racetrack. The $25,000 Birmingham Maid and $50,000 Magic City Classic will highlight new talent, as well as veterans of our state-bred racing program.

An inaugural turf stakes race with a purse of $35,000 will be held in late August or early September at a track still to be determined.

In December, Alabama two-year-olds will hit the track at Fair Grounds in the $35,000 Kudzu Juvenile.

President Skip Drinkard and the Alabama HBPA Board of Directors continue to work toward expanding the Alabama state-bred racing program and to provide a quality venue for Alabama Thoroughbred breeders.

Election Process Underway
3/4/2010 6:44:14 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2010 

The Alabama HBPA is conducting an election for president and Board of Directors. Hopefully, this will end long and costly litigation brought by rival horsemen and associations. We have been in some form of litigation since 1997, which has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We could have used this money for purses in our Alabama-bred racing program or our continued efforts to return live racing.

The lawsuit we are currently concluding was funded by the Alabama Quarterhorse Racing Association and Michael Pizitz as president of the Alabama Thoroughbred Association (ATA). Jim Bowen, president of the Quarterhorse Racing Association, stated in a deposition that his organization has a direct conflict of interest with the Alabama HBPA. Nancy Delony, an officer of the ATA, testified in a protest hearing on January 27, 2006 that the ATA no longer exists; however, they still have Alabama horsemen’s money. She further testified that Michael Pizitz, the president of the ATA, was in personal control of the horsemen’s this funds and did with it as he saw fit. These are the people who have funded the suit against the Alabama HBPA.

The complaint for that lawsuit filed against the Alabama HBPA was filed by David Harrington, Marsha Brown, and a new Quarterhorse Association called the AHBRP. The complaint demanded that the AHBRP replace the Alabama HBPA and all money be transferred to them. When the trial in this lawsuit took place, no plaintiffs showed up in court, and their only witness was Jim Bowen, the president of the Alabama Quarterhorse Racing Association. He testified that the new association (AHBRP) had disbanded and it no longer existed. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of the Alabama HBPA but also said a new election should be held. The reason for the new election was because qualified voters might not have been registered to vote.

The Alabama HBPA and National HBPA agreed upon an election format with certain deadlines. To be able to vote, you must have submitted a membership card and application by a cutoff date. Some people who were later certified as members were not allowed to vote because they missed the cutoff date set by the National HBPA. This is the reason for the new election.

An election protest hearing was held according to the Alabama HBPA By-Laws, with attorney Peter Ecabert as the hearing officer. The election was certified after the Board concluded the results would not have changed even if the people qualified as members after the cutoff had voted.

We have a great chance to return live Thoroughbred racing to Alabama this year. Our legislature is considering a constitutional amendment which would allow the people of the state to vote on alternative gaming. All polls show the people of Alabama favor the amendment by a percentage ranging from 64 percent up to 83 percent. We are working with the Birmingham track owner closely to get this legislation passed.

The Alabaman HBPA election process is currently undergoing an objection period, after which the Special Master will determine the election calendar. Ballots and information will be mailed out directly from the Special Master to horsemen qualified to participate in the election, and this information should include contact information for the Special Master’s office.

For more information, please call the Alabama HBPA office at (256) 773-3592. If you believe you are qualified to receive a ballot in the election but do not receive one, the Alabama HBPA office will be able to provide you with contact information for the Special Master to address the issue once the election calendar is finalized.

High Court Shoots Down Alabama HBPA Election
9/3/2009 1:36:35 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 9/3/2009 10:22:33 AM

The Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed a circuit court ruling that vacated a 2006 election of board members of the Alabama Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and ordered a new election.

The action, taken Aug. 14, is the latest in a more than 10-year controversy surrounding the horsemen’s group, which exists in a state that hasn’t had live Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse racing since the mid-1990s. The Alabama HBPA, however, has remained a member of the National HBPA, which has about 30 affiliates in North America.

The state Supreme Court in its ruling issued no opinion.

Jefferson County, Ala., Circuit Court issued its ruling March 22, 2007. Its order made five points: the Alabama HBPA is the proper entity to represent horsemen at Birmingham Race Course; the election of Oct. 22, 2006, be vacated; another election be held within 90 days to elect officers and directors; a “special master” be appointed by the court to conduct and oversee the election; and, other than “ordinary and necessary expenses,” the Alabama HBPA can’t disburse funds pending the election.

Accordingly, the election must be held within 90 days of Aug. 14.

In February 2007, the National HBPA accepted the 2006 election results of the Alabama HBPA but said the group must be more transparent, hold regular meetings, provide financial reports, and be aggressive in seeking to bring back live horse racing to Birmingham.

In January 2008, the National HBPA Executive Committee discussed the Alabama situation at length but took no action. Officials said they simply wanted to ensure the Alabama HBPA was in compliance by holding regular meetings, changing its bylaws, be more transparent with its members, and work to return live horse racing to the state.

“I’m totally and completely confused,” Pat Drinkard, secretary/treasurer of the Alabama HBPA and wife of its president, Skip Drinkard, said during the 2008 meeting. “There is nothing that isn’t transparent. I feel you are micromanaging Alabama, picking on us, and keeping us in the dark.

“I’m frustrated. It seems like it never ends.”

The discussion ended with a comment from Arkansas HBPA board member Bill Walmsley, who said: “The Alabama affiliate is a member in good standing.”

No officers or members of the Alabama HBPA attended the National HBPA summer convention this year. The issue wasn’t discussed during public meetings at the convention, though it is on the agenda for the National HBPA winter convention in Tucson, Ariz., in December.

National HBPA chief executive officer Remi Bellocq said Sept. 3 the Alabama HBPA remains a member of the national body, which sticks the conditions it issued in 2007 and reiterated in 2008.

“We stick to what the board (of directors) approved and executive committee recommended,” Bellocq said. “We’re going to let the local legal action work itself out. Regardless of what is happening down there, we said we wanted an update at our winter convention.”

In an interview in the fall of 2006, Dr. David Harrington, a former member of the Alabama HBPA who has pushed for financial disclosure and regular meetings, criticized the National HBPA for not taking sufficient action and asked why the local group would determine voter eligibility given the circumstances.

“That’s like putting the fox in to guard the hen house,” he said.

National HBPA officials have said they can only go so far because of agreed-upon policy that keeps the organization from interfering in affiliate business. The National HBPA receives dues each year from affiliates.

Meet Our New Board of Directors
3/13/2007 10:09:45 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2007 

The Alabama HBPA is delighted to welcome its newly elected Board of Directors and introduce them to The Horsemen’s Journal’s readers. We feel that this is a dedicated group of Thoroughbred horsemen who will work diligently to promote Alabama racing.

Kenneth Holley is an Alabama resident and a retired military police officer. He is involved both in breeding and racing Thoroughbreds. Mr. Holley has raced horses in Alabama-bred stakes races, as well as in Ohio, Michigan, and Louisiana.

Scott Lingo is retired ironworker living in Cleveland, Alabama. Mr. Lingo has been a licensed owner in Alabama, Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Indiana, and he won an Alabama-bred stakes race with Wes Scottie. He has two Thoroughbreds currently racing in Ohio and Kentucky, as well as broodmares at home and a pair of two year olds in training.

E. L. Slaton is a resident of Decatur, Alabama, and is married to the former Denise Reiber of Birmingham. They have two daughters, Carly and Cheyenne. Mr. Slaton has owned and raced Thoroughbreds in the Alabama-bred stakes races since 1995. He is the owner and CEO of a large construction and earth moving company with projects throughout the South.

Dennis Vasser owns and operates Vasser Heating and Cooling in Selma, Alabama. He also has a cattle operation and raises Thoroughbreds. Mr. Vasser began racing in 1987 in Birmingham and has raced in Louisiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. He currently has horses racing in Ohio and Kentucky.

Dr. Tony Williams is a semi-retired medical doctor who is known in his West Alabama area as the only doctor who still makes house calls. Dr. Williams raced successfully in Birmingham and has started entrants in Alabama-bred races held at various tracks. Dr. Williams passed his love of horses on to his family and has a son who is a practicing equine veterinarian.

Ronald Bosarge has been in the Thoroughbred business as an owner and trainer for over 20 years, beginning with the old Jefferson Downs in New Orleans. Mr. Bosarge moved his operation to Alabama, breeding and raising Thoroughbreds at his farm in Collman County while racing at Birmingham. He has started various entrants in the Alabama-bred stakes races over the years while continuing to race in Minnesota, Florida, Louisiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Roberta Hill Cogswell owns and trains Thoroughbreds on her farm in Dunnellon, Florida. Ms. Cogswell became a licensed trainer in 1969 and has raced Thoroughbreds at 22 tracks. She has been leading trainer at Green Mountain and Finger Lakes, and she has served on the Alabama HBPA Board of Directors since 1995.

Johnny Inabinett is a resident of Grand Bay, Alabama. Since 1971, he has been a full-time trainer of Thoroughbreds. Mr. Inabinett began racing in Louisiana and moved his operation to Birmingham in 1987. He is licensed in the states of Ohio, Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Indiana. He won the Vulcan Stakes with Sunblock and has been a strong competitor in almost all of the Alabama-bred races held since 1995.

Darrel Jackson became licensed as a Thoroughbred trainer in 1989. This third generation horseman is a force to be reckoned with in Alabama-bred stakes races, having won the Kudzu Juvenile twice. Mr. Jackson has two grown daughters and makes his home in Grand Bay, Alabama. He currently has seven horses racing in Louisiana.

Jack Stidham is an Alabama resident who owns and operates a small trucking company in Cullman, Alabama. He also owns and operates a Thoroughbred breeding and racing operation, where he has 30 broodmares and stands three stallions. Mr. Stidham has been active in the horse business for over 25 years and is an avid team roper as well as Thoroughbred trainer. He currently races five horses in Florida and Ohio.

President Skip Drinkard has been a horseman all of his life, beginning with the family’s Tennessee Walking Horse and continuing with Quarter Horses and then Thoroughbreds. Mr. Drinkard spent many years in rodeo, competing in steer wrestling, calf roping, bareback riding, and bull riding. He became a licensed Thoroughbred trainer in 1987 in Birmingham and has continued to race in Ohio, Kentucky, Louisiana, Indiana, Arkansas, and West Virginia while breeding Thoroughbreds on his farm in Morgan County, Alabama. In 2006, Mr. Drinkard won 17 races at four different tracks with Alabama-bred Thoroughbreds.

Mr. Drinkard has served as the Alabama HBPA President since 1995.

The Alabama HBPA remains dedicated to promoting the Thoroughbred industry in the State of Alabama. While actively working to return live Thoroughbred horse racing to our state, the Alabama HPBA and the Birmingham Racing Commission co-sponsor stakes races for Alabama-bred only Thoroughbreds at various tracks.

We plan to announce details of the next race in the near future.

HBPA '07 Convention - Election Upheld, But Is It Sweet Home Alabama?
2/14/2007 1:23:28 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 2/14/2007 11:33:55 AM Last Updated: 2/14/2007 12:53:45 PM

The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has accepted the results of a contentious Alabama HBPA election, but there remains animosity, a lawsuit, and questions over whether live Thoroughbred racing will ever return to Alabama.

The National HBPA executive committee discussed the Alabama situation behind closed doors Feb. 10 during the organization’s winter convention in Hot Springs, Ark., and the following day, the board of directors accepted the election results. Officials said the Alabama HBPA had addressed concerns by changing its bylaws to require it to be “more financially transparent” and hold quarterly meetings, hold general membership meetings and provide comprehensive reports on all matters, and have an election every three years.

The organization also must be “more aggressive” in its efforts to return live horse racing to Birmingham Race Course, where the last meet was held in 1995. The track does offer Greyhound racing and takes wagers on Thoroughbred races from around the country.

The most recent Alabama HBPA election took place in the fall of 2006; the next one is scheduled for October 2009. Previously, no elections had been held for more than 10 years, and another group petitioned--without success--the National HBPA to recognize it as the official Alabama horsemen’s representative.

Individuals told The Blood-Horse they dissolved the group in order to vote in the 2006 election, and they alleged about 65 voting cards were rejected. National HBPA representatives Dr. Ed Hagan, chairman emeritus, and Peter Ecabert, an attorney, presided over a Jan. 27 hearing in Birmingham that addressed the validity of the election.

Hagan, recently dubbed the National HBPA election guru, said the ballots were sealed and opened by himself and a certified public accountant. He did say officials with the Alabama HBPA decided whether prospective voters were qualified or not.

“We heard both sides of the story,” Hagan said Feb. 11. “We felt that they complied with all the timely dates, and that Alabama HBPA bylaws were fulfilled. It was a very legitimate election, and a very one-sided election.”

In an interview last fall, Dr. David Harrington, a former member of the Alabama HBPA who has pushed for financial disclosure and regular meetings, criticized the National HBPA for not taking sufficient action and asked why the local group would determine voter eligibility given the circumstances. “That’s like putting the fox in to guard the hen house,” he said.

National HBPA officials have said, however, they can only go so far because of agreed-upon policy that keeps the organization from interfering in affiliate business. The National HBPA receives dues each year from affiliates.

Hagan said the Alabama HBPA is now charged with reaching out to those deemed ineligible to vote and bringing them back to the HBPA fold. Individuals involved in lawsuits against the Alabama HBPA can’t join because of a conflict of interest, though if lawsuits are dropped, they could, officials said.

Alabama HBPA president Elbert “Skip” Drinkard said he “pretty much stayed at arm’s length” during the election and left it in the hands of a certification committee to determine voter eligibility. Drinkard’s wife, Pat, secretary/treasurer of the Alabama HBPA, is writing letters to those not certified in an effort to increase membership, he said.

“We’re trying to be inclusive instead of exclusive,” said Drinkard, a trainer who has served as president for more than 12 years. “This is the first time we have a board that’s not scattered all over the country. I think we’re all on the same page.”

Drinkard also said a hearing on a lawsuit challenging the organization is scheduled for Feb. 20. “We want to go to court to put this thing behind us,” he said.

That may not be easy to accomplish. Several people, including Fred Palmer, told The Blood-Horse they believe they were qualified to vote but were denied the right. Harrington alleged the voting rules were frequently changed in the lead-up to the election.

The situation is complicated by the fact the Alabama HBPA receives more than $10,000 a month--$120,000 a year--from Birmingham Race Course owner Milton McGregor to maintain simulcasts of Thoroughbred races, and has done so for more than 10 years. Dissidents have questioned why other horsemen’s groups continued to send Thoroughbred signals to Birmingham given the fact it hosts no live racing.

Drinkard, when asked about the chances of live horse returning to Alabama, again expressed optimism. He said the “key to returning live racing is alternative gaming,” and a swing in votes in the state legislature could get it done.

Though the state Supreme Court recently pulled the plug on electronic sweepstakes machines at Birmingham, McGregor has plans to spend $40 million to restore the track for horse racing should alternative gaming be approved, Drinkard said.

“The main objective of our board is live racing and funding Alabama-bred races” hosted by other tracks, Drinkard said.

Finances remain a concern of individuals who have questioned current Alabama HBPA leadership about accountability and record-keeping. In fact, many documents showing various charges for rental cars, legal fees, and even hair appointments were faxed to representatives of various affiliates by the rival group in an attempt to get the National HBPA’s attention.

“In my opinion, National should step up and police these people,” Freddie Hyatt, a former member of the Alabama HBPA board and now a member of the Tampa Bay HBPA board, said in an earlier interview. “We’ve got too many problems in our system, and we need to straighten it out.”

Drinkard expressed a willingness to work with all horsemen in Alabama and indicated the organization would comply with the Feb. 11 National HBPA directive.

National HBPA president Joe Santanna said the new bylaws adopted by the Alabama HBPA “reflect their decision to embrace all horsemen in Alabama. The Alabama HPBA is now positioned to respond to its members as they pursue the return of live racing to Alabama."

Along with Drinkard, members of the new board were reported as follows: Scott Lingo, Ernie Slaton, Dennis Vasser, Tony Williams, Kenneth Holley, first alternate Linda Bosarge, and second alternate J.W. Scarborough (owner directors); and Ronald Bosarge, Robert Cogswell, Johnny Inabinett, Darrly Jackson, Jack Stidham, first alternate Dennis Murphy, and second alternate Dwaine Glenn (owner/trainer directors).

Election Results
11/29/2006 5:10:47 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2006 

The 2006 Alabama HBPA special election results are as follows:

Skip Drinkard was reelected as president for a three year term.

In the Owners category, Roberta Cogswell, Scott Lingo, E.L. Slaton, and Dr. Tony Williams were reelected to the Board of Directors. Kenneth Holley was newly elected to the Board. Linda Bosarge was chosen as First Alternate, and J.W. Scarborough was chosen as Second Alternate.

In the Trainer/Owner Trainer category, Ronald Bosarge, Roberta Cogswell, Johnny Inabinett, Darrel Jackson and Jack Stidham were reelected for three year terms. Dennis Murphy was selected as First Alternate and Dwaine Glenn as Second Alternate.

The Alabama HBPA wishes to thank Dr. Ed Hagen for his work as monitor for the National HBPA during this election.

Congratulations to all those selected to serve as officers and directors of the Alabama HBPA. We feel that this is a vibrant, representative Board which will work diligently to further the Thoroughbred industry in our state. We urge all members to unite and interact with the officers and directors of the Alabama HBPA to move forward in our efforts to promote Alabama-bred Thoroughbreds and to return live horse racing to Alabama.

2006 Alabama HBPA Special Election Results
11/22/2006 5:14:19 PM  -  Alabama HBPA 

2006 Alabama HBPA Special Election Results

President
Skip Drinkard

Owner Director
Scott Lingo
Ernie Slaton
Dennis Vasser
Tony Williams
Kenneth Holley

1st Alternate: Linda Bosarge
2nd Alternate: J.W. Scarborough

Owner/Trainer Director
Ronald Bosarge
Robert Cogswell
Johnny Inabinett
Darrly Jackson
Jack Stidham

1st Alternate: Dennis Murphy
2nd Alternate: Dwaine Glenn

$50,000 Alabama-Bred Stakes Slated for March 26 at Oaklawn Park
3/7/2006 3:10:22 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2006 

The $50,000 Vulcan Stakes for three year old Alabama-bred Thoroughbreds will be held at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas on March 26. Nominations for the six furlong race close on March 4. If you have a horse for this race and have not received a nomination form, contact the Alabama HBPA at (256) 773-3592 or the Birmingham Racing Commission at (205) 838-7500.  

If you have an interest in Thoroughbred racing in the State of Alabama, we would love to hear from you.

Sweepstakes Machines at Birmingham Ruled Legal
3/7/2006 3:09:11 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2006 

Judge Scott Vowell of the Jefferson County Circuit Court in Birmingham recently ruled that the sweepstakes machines installed at the Birmingham Race Course are legal under Alabama law. All indications are that the Mega Sweepstakes program will be very successful, and this should allow live horse racing to return to Birmingham next year.

We are very excited about racing in Alabama again. Please let us hear from you so that we may share the excitement and all upcoming developments in Alabama.

Annual Membership Registration Underway
3/7/2006 3:07:57 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2006 

We are presently conducting our annual membership registration. If you were a member of the Alabama HBPA and started a Thoroughbred in the last year of racing at Birmingham Race Course (1995), we need to hear from you. Please contact us at: Alabama HBPA, 1523 Indian Hills Road, Hartselle, Alabama 35640, phone: (256) 773-3592, e-mail: alahbpa@aol.com.

  We are also trying to contact all owners and trainers who had horses in any of the Alabama-bred races conducted in other states.

Gambling machines at Birmingham are legal, judge rules
2/5/2006 2:09:34 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 2/4/2006 4:14:00 PM

The return of Thoroughbred racing to Birmingham Race Course in Alabama might now be possible after a judge ruled on Tuesday that about 1,300 sweepstakes gambling machines installed there last year are legal under state gambling law.

Thoroughbreds have not raced at Birmingham since 1995.

Track owner Milton McGregor said revenues from the machines could pave the way for the return of horse racing at Birmingham. Currently, the track conducts dog racing, but McGregor reportedly found a loophole in state lottery law that allows him to operate the machines, the Montgomery Advertiser reports.

Jefferson County (Alabama) sheriff's deputies confiscated about 300 of the machines during a raid on the track late last year, shortly after the track unveiled 1,300 machines for operation. County attorneys argued the machines were illegal gambling devices disguised to resemble legal sweepstakes.

"The operation looks and sounds like a gambling casino, but under Alabama law it is not," Circuit Judge Scott Vowell said.

Prior to the ruling, the machines were returned to the track under an agreement they would not be used until their legal status was determined.

Although the devices resemble slot machines, they are a promotion to get patrons to buy computer time at the track's new Internet cafe, to increase wagering on the track's dog races, and to sell concessions, attorneys for the track argued, according to the newspaper. Customers get 100 free sweepstakes entries for each dollar they spend on computer time. They then use the sweepstakes machines to read electronic cards that reveal whether they have won.

Judge halts removal of gambling machines from Birmingham
12/31/2005 9:59:17 AM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 12/29/2005 4:19:00 PM ET

A Jefferson County, Alabama, judge issued a restraining order Thursday afternoon, putting a stop to a sheriff’s raid on the sweepstakes gambling machines at Birmingham Race Course.

About 300 machines had been removed before Judge Scott Vowell issued the order, the Associated Press reports. The track debuted about 1,300 of the machines last week, and track owner Milton McGregor has said the machines could lead to the return of Thoroughbred racing. Birmingham has not had live horse racing since 1995 and now conducts greyhound racing.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for January 3. The raid also interrupted pari-mutuel operations at the track, which include simulcasts of dog and horse races.

"They have wrongly interfered with our business and our customers," McGregor said. "The people who played a role in this today will pay a price, a high price."

New Gaming Devices at Birmingham Could Lead to Racing’s Return
11/29/2005 2:20:43 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 11/29/2005 11:44:00 AM ET

Milton McGregor plans to introduce in mid-December sweepstakes gaming devices at his Birmingham Race Course that, if successful and deemed legal, could lead to the return of Thoroughbred racing at the Alabama facility.

First, the Alabama attorney general’s office will have to determine whether the machines are legal, the Mobile Register reports. The state allows some expanded gaming such as instant bingo at its greyhound facilities and at tribal casinos.

With the track’s sweepstakes gaming, players would buy time on computer terminals and get cards to insert into a reader for prizes ranging from $1 to several thousand dollars.

The attorney general’s blessing of the sweepstakes machines could prompt the Legislature to legalize more traditional forms of electronic gambling at tracks—a move McGregor lobbied unsuccessfully for last year.

Thoroughbreds have not raced at Birmingham since 1995.

Bill to Return Live Racing to Alabama Falls Short
9/11/2004 6:00:08 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2004 

Despite the diligent efforts of the Alabama HBPA Board of Directors, Birmingham Race Course owner Milton McGregor, and many other hard-working volunteers, a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize electronic bingo games with unlimited cash prizes died on the final day of the 2004 regular session of the Alabama Legislature. The bill passed the Senate earlier, but was still pending in the House when the session ended on May 17.

If the bill had passed, it would have resulted in a statewide referendum in November that, if passed, would have resulted in returning live horse racing to Alabama.

Dubbed “Bingo for Beds” in its final form, the bill would have allowed video bingo machines at Birmingham Race Course and Mobile Greyhound Park. Currently, there are Native American casinos operating in Alabama, as well as two greyhound tracks, that already have electronic bingo games. The Native American casinos pay no taxes to the state of Alabama.

The machines at Birmingham Race Course and Mobile Greyhound Park would have been taxed by the state at a rate of 16 percent, with the proceeds from the state tax (an estimated $98 million per year) earmarked for Medicaid, a health-care program for the poor. This money would draw matching federal funds at approximately a 3-to-1 rate.

Said McGregor, “This is not a matter of settling a gambling issue ... This is a matter of taxing what is already here and generating” hundreds of millions of dollars for Medicaid programs with state and federal funds.

According to Alabama HBPA President Skip Drinkard, efforts to pass legislation that would allow the racetracks in the state to fairly compete with the Native American casinos are continuing. He is very hopeful that the efforts will succeed in 2005, and if they do, they will enable live horse racing to return to Alabama.

Efforts to Return Live Racing to Alabama in High Gear
6/4/2004 2:38:00 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2004 

Efforts to return live racing to Alabama have been going on since it ceased in 1995. Those efforts have shifted into high gear this year, and the substantial progress towards meeting that goal has been evident this spring.

On February 25, Milton McGregor, owner of Birmingham Race Course in Birmingham, Alabama, called a press conference at the track to announce that he would invest $40 million to upgrade the facility and return live horse racing if he can get video gambling at the track. He stressed that it would require video gambling to make the upgrades a viable option and to supplement purses to a level high enough to attract quality racehorses.

According to McGregor, he is not asking for anything that does not already exist in the state since Indian gaming sites already have video bingo, video poker, and a game called pull-tab, which is similar to a slot machine. He asserted, “I will not advocate any form of gambling not already in Alabama. I want it taxed and regulated. I want to pay my fair share of taxes.”

The Indian gaming sites in Alabama are not taxed or regulated and thus contribute nothing to the state.

McGregor went on to say, “I’m willing to take the chance to upgrade this facility. We haven’t been able to afford a facelift because of competition from 32 Mississippi casinos, four Native American casinos in Alabama, and two of the most successful state lotteries in Georgia and Florida, with Tennessee joining them.”

McGregor continued to stress the importance of racing being treated fairly and equally as compared to its competition. He also stressed the economic impact that the return of live racing could have on the state. He cited a 1989 study done by Auburn University that placed the horse racing industry’s annual economic impact on the state at $234 million and noted, “We expect a much higher number now.”

Additionally, McGregor stated, “Horse racing alone is a losing proposition [in Birmingham]. It must be subsidized here, or it won’t break even. Until 1995, we were subsidizing it with greyhound racing, but greyhound racing is now hurting because of competition from other gambling.”

There were several other invited speakers at the press conference, including Alabama HBPA President Skip Drinkard, National HBPA Chairman of the Board Dr. Ed Hagan, The Horsemen’s Journal Editor Richard E. Glover Jr., Birmingham Racing Commission Vice Chairman Charles Crockrom Sr., and top jockeys Shane Sellers and Corey Lanerie.

According to Drinkard, the addition of video gambling and the return of live horse racing to Alabama would create hundreds of new jobs and would allow horsemen to set up racing and breeding operations in Alabama, which has the advantage of close proximity to key racing states such as Kentucky, Florida, and Louisiana. Drinkard also pointed out that increased profits at the racetrack would translate into increased charitable contributions by the facility. Birmingham Race Course has a history of generous donations to a number of charities in the Birmingham area.

Birmingham Racing Commission Vice Chairman Charles Crockrom Sr. concurred with Drinkard and struck a cord when he asserted, “The men and women who most benefit from this facility [Birmingham Race Course], the racing, and expanded gambling are the men and women you see on the streets of Birmingham.”

Since the time of the press conference, the Alabama HBPA has continued to work long and hard hours, in conjunction with Mr. McGregor and Birmingham Race Course, to obtain the needed legislative support to pass a bill allowing video gaming at the state’s racetracks.

On Monday, April 26, the Metropolitan Development Board released the results of a study done by the Department of Finance, Economics & Quantitative Methods at the University of Alabama at Birmingham examining the possible economic impact of the return of live racing at Birmingham Race Course to the greater Birmingham area. According to the study, the return of live racing could bring as much as $15 million annually in new state and local taxes, as well as creating 3,000 jobs which would pay $63 million in salaries and result in $146 million in new business.

Speaking of the study, Drinkard said, “The study confirms what we have said for many years: horse racing is a positive industry that can create thousands of jobs and millions in taxes and economic benefits for the state of Alabama – not just Birmingham, but rural Alabama, as well.”

At the time of this writing, the Alabama Senate has passed a gaming bill, commonly being called the “Bingo for Books” bill, which would allow video bingo games at Birmingham Race Course and Mobile Greyhound Park. The bill is currently in the House of Representatives, where it would need 63 of 105 votes to pass. The original bill has been amended in the House, and the Alabama HBPA feels that the changes strengthened the bill’s chance of passage.

The bill is expected to come up for a final vote in the House on May 17, where Alabama HBPA President Skip Drinkard feels it will face its toughest battle. Alabama HBPA members throughout the state have been mobilizing to show their support with calls and personal visits to their legislators.

If the bill clears the House, it will face a state referendum in the November 2 general election, and Drinkard believes that the people of Alabama will respond favorably to such a referendum. A majority of Birmingham voters would also have to approve the measure for the video bingo games to be allowed at Birmingham Race Course, either on the same day or in a local election at a later date.

According to Drinkard, “We’re excited; it’s the first step out of three, but I think we’re going to pass it in the House, and then we’ll leave it up to the people.” Drinkard went on to say that, “Several polls show about 65% of the public would support it, and that was prior to the Alabama Education Association giving its support for the bill. So we think we’re in really good shape.”

Birmingham study touts potential revenue from horse racing, video poker
4/29/2004 11:35:04 AM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Supporters of a return of live Thoroughbred racing at Birmingham Race Course were bolstered on Monday by the release of a study that projects as much as $15-million in new state and local taxes from racing and video lottery terminal revenue.

Milton McGregor, owner of the Birmingham facility, has pledged to reintroduce Thoroughbred racing there if the track receives approval for expanded gaming. A bill that would allow VLTs at state racetracks passed the Alabama Senate in March and is awaiting action in the state House of Representatives.

A study by the Metropolitan Development Board found that horse racing could create 3,000 jobs in the area, pay $63-million in salaries, and create $146-million in new business, the Birmingham News reports.

"We think horse racing has the potential to create money that our state needs," said Ted vonCannon, the board’s president.

"To have a successful racing program, you’ve got to have good purses," said Skip Drinkard, president of the Alabama Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. "But the only way you can do that is to supplement those purses with what you already have in the state, [VLTs]."


Alabama Senate approves bill that could bring horses back to Birmingham
3/19/2004 4:55:20 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

The Alabama Senate passed a gaming bill on Thursday that could lead to the return of live Thoroughbred racing at Birmingham Race Course. The measure, approved on a 21-9 vote, would allow video bingo games at Birmingham Race Course and Mobile Greyhound Park. Milton McGregor, owner of the Birmingham facility, has pledged to reintroduce Thoroughbred racing there if the track receives approval for expanded gaming.

The bill now moves to the state House of Representatives, where it would need votes from at least 63 of 105 members to pass. If the bill clears the House, it would face a state referendum in the November 2 general election. A majority of Birmingham voters would also have to approve the measure for the machines to be allowed at Birmingham Race Course, either the same day or in a local election at a later date.

"We’re excited; it’s the first step out of three, but I think we’re going to pass it in the House and then we’ll leave it up to the people," said Skip Drinkard, president of the Alabama Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. "Several polls show about 65% of the public would support it, and that was prior to the Alabama Education Association giving their support for the bill. So we think we’re in real good shape."

State Senator Gerald Dial (D-Lineville) sponsored the bill, which he estimates would raise from $32-million to $50-million a year for the state’s Education Trust Fund, the Birmingham News reports.

Birmingham opened its $84-million facility in 1987 and halted live Thoroughbred racing eight years later, citing handle decreases. The track now conducts greyhound racing and simulcasts Thoroughbred racing.

If Birmingham receives expanded gaming, McGregor plans to invest $40-million in facility upgrades, including $3-million in backstretch renovations.—Jeff Lowe

Alabama-Bred Race Purses Increase for 2004
3/13/2004 11:05:00 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2004 

Chairman Michael G. Kendrick and the Birmingham Racing Commission have done an excellent job of maintaining interest in Alabama racing. The Alabama HBPA is pleased to announce that we are able to supplement purse monies for the Commission’s 2004 Alabama-bred races.

We are adding $20,000 to the purse of the Vulcan Stakes, and $15,000 to the Magic City Classic, the Alabama Belle, and the Kudzu Juvenile. Additionally, we are adding $5,000 to The Birmingham. The schedule for these races is as follows:

Vulcan Stakes ($50,000) – Friday, March 26 – Fair Grounds Racecourse – six furlongs for 3-year-old registered Alabama-breds

Magic City Classic ($55,000) – Saturday, June 12 – River Downs Racetrack – six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up registered Alabama-breds

The Birmingham ($22,500) – Saturday, June 12 – River Downs Racetrack – a maiden stakes race for 3-year-olds and up registered Alabama-breds

The Alabama Belle ($55,000) – Friday, September 10 – Louisiana Downs – six furlongs for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up, registered Alabama-breds

The Kudzu Juvenile ($50,000) – late fall, date to be determined – Fair Grounds Racecourse – races will be restricted to 2-year-old registered Alabama-breds

Thanks for a Great National HBPA Convention
3/13/2004 11:03:02 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2004 

Kudos to the Louisiana HBPA for hosting a terrific convention in New Orleans and to the National HBPA for a productive and informative gathering. We are pleased that, once again, our Alabama HBPA Board of Directors was represented at the convention – this time by Board member Jesse Jones. We appreciate the continued interest and support from our dedicated Board of Directors.

Contact Us If You Have Raced Or Want To Race in Alabama
3/13/2004 11:00:58 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2004 

We received excellent response from our advertisement in the last issue of The Horsemen’s Journal. We feel very optimistic concerning our chances of passing legislation which will return live horse racing to Alabama. It continues to be important for us to be able to contact all horsemen who raced in Alabama in the past or who would be interested in racing in our state in the future.

If you fall into one of those categories but have not yet contacted us, please get in touch with us and give us your current mailing address, e-mail address, or telephone number. You may reach us at Alabama HBPA, 1523 Indian Hill Road, Hartselle, AL 35640, by phone at (256) 773-3592, or by e-mail at alahbpa@aol.com.

Alabama HBPA: Return of Live Racing is Objective
2/4/2003 4:39:24 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

A representative of the Alabama Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association said that, despite concerns from a few National HBPA affiliates, the organization is working to improve the outlook for Thoroughbred racing in the state.

Alabama HBPA representatives were questioned during a Jan. 28 meeting of the National HBPA executive committee in Phoenix, Ariz., about plans for a return of live racing, and whether its financial house was in order. Charles Town HBPA president Dick Watson said he had received calls from people in Alabama with questions about the organization and its finances.

Mike Wallace, counsel for the Alabama HBPA, said the questions may have stemmed from "bad blood" that lingers from previous lawsuits, breed wars, and an old battle with the Alabama Thoroughbred Association.

"Everything we have done is to promote Thoroughbred racing and bring it back," Wallace said. "There are a lot of things we've done to rectify things. I question whether (the individuals that contacted Watson) are Alabama HBPA members. We've got a lot of enemies."

During the National HBPA executive committee meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., Wallace and Alabama HBPA president Skip Drinkard said a budget crunch and Indian casinos have made the time ripe to pursue legislation for racetrack gaming. The bill would require Birmingham Race Course to offer live horse racing should it get video gaming machines.

Birmingham, which now offers live Greyhound racing and full-card simulcasting of horse and dog races, closed for Thoroughbred racing in the 1990s. When an anti-trust suit tied to simulcasting was dismissed, the track paid the Alabama HBPA a $1-million settlement, Wallace said.

Under the terms of a current contract, Birmingham pays the Alabama HBPA $10,000 a month for the right to simulcast horse races. Wallace also said there is money in an escrow fund. (In the late 1990s, that purse money was mentioned by the ATA as a possible way to fund the Claiming Crown and bring live racing back to Birmingham.)

A few years ago, the Alabama HBPA paid the National HBPA $183,000. Though there is no live horse racing in the state, a fund administered by the Birmingham Racing Commission supports five Alabama-bred stakes held at other racetracks.

The Alabama HBPA has about 300 members, down from 600, and its board meets once a year. But its deal with Birmingham, and the fact an election hasn't been held since 1994, led to questions from Watson and Florida HBPA president Linda Mills. (Florida is the closest Thoroughbred racing state to Alabama.)

Wallace said general membership meetings have been called, but there hasn't been a quorum. Members have scattered in the absence of live racing in the state.

During the Jan. 28 meeting, Mills asked why the Alabama HBPA doesn't remove the Thoroughbred signals from Birmingham to force a return of live racing. Drinkard said such action would put the organization "right back to square one."

Wallace said the legislative session in Alabama begins March 4. He said three Indian casinos--connected mobile homes that took in a total of $100 million--have caught legislators' attention because they generate no revenue for the state. Racetrack-based gaming would, however, provide money for the state.

Copyright © 2003 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

National HBPA Asks Intentions of Alabama Horsemen
1/29/2003 2:11:38 AM  -  Blood-Horse 

Behind-the-scenes efforts to return Thoroughbred racing to Alabama met with a hint of allegations Jan. 28 that the Alabama Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association may not have racing's best interests at heart. During the National HBPA executive committee meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., Alabama HBPA president Skip Drinkard, and the group's counsel, Mike Wallace, said a budget crunch and Indian casinos have made the time ripe to pursue legislation for racetrack gaming. The bill would require Birmingham Race Course to offer live horse racing should it get video gaming machines.

Birmingham, which now offers live Greyhound racing and full-card simulcasting of horse and dog races, closed for Thoroughbred racing in the 1990s. When an anti-trust suit tied to simulcasting was dismissed, the track paid the Alabama HBPA a $1-million settlement, Wallace said.

Under the terms of a current contract, Birmingham pays the Alabama HBPA $10,000 a month for the right to simulcast horse races. Wallace also said there is money in an escrow fund. (In the late 1990s, that purse money was mentioned as a possible way to fund the Claiming Crown and bring live racing back to Birmingham.)

The Alabama HBPA currently funds five $35,000 Alabama-bred stakes held at other tracks in the country. A few years ago, it paid the National HBPA $183,000.

The organization has about 300 members, down from 600, and its board meets once a year. But its deal with Birmingham, and the fact an election hasn't been held since 1994, led some members of the National HBPA to question Drinkard and Wallace.

"In the last three months, I've gotten about 50 calls from people in Alabama ... who say there are no elections, no accountability, and that they don't know where the money is going," said Dick Watson, president of the Charles Town HBPA. "I want you to invite me down there so I can look at the books."

"Any member of our organization is entitled to see the books," Wallace said.

Florida HBPA president Linda Mills asked why the Alabama HBPA doesn't remove the signals to force a return of live racing. Drinkard said such action would put the organization "right back to square one."

Wallace said the legislative session in Alabama begins March 4. He said three Indian casinos that are "just mobile homes tied together, but they took in $100 million," have caught legislator's attention because they generate no revenue for the state. Racetrack-based gaming would, however.

"We're really excited about what's going on," Wallace said. Copyright © 2003 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 




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