Biography: Michael Ballezzi is a crucial leader of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. He is an attorney as well as a licensed Thoroughbred owner and former trainer. Since his appointment as Executive Director of the PTHA in 1996, Ballezzi has been a leading force in improving the lives of horsemen at Parx Racing. He has always believed that this should start with a strong voice in Harrisburg, and his legal background has made him the perfect man for the job.
One of the significant accomplishments of his tenure as Executive Director so far has been the passage of Act 71, which allocates the highest percentage of slot machine revenue in the nation to Parx horsemen, assuring a significant improvement in purses, pension, and health care benefits to horsemen and their families. Ballezzi has also successfully utilized the funding that has been generated by slot machine legislation to rebuild all of the barns at Parx, as well as renovate the existing dorm rooms for the horsemen that live on the grounds.
Not one to shy away from controversy, Ballezzi responded to negative press regarding horse slaughter by heading the creation of a racehorse retirement program called Turning for Home, which has become a model plan for other racetracks throughout the country. Since its inception in 2008, Turning for Home has helped more than 1,300 retiring racehorses.
Ballezzi has made a personal commitment to all Parx horsemen that he will always be the strongest voice in the racing industry for their rights, so that all horsemen will be on a fair and level playing field. His advocacy has spanned the gamut from purse distribution, live racing days, stall allocations, medication rules, pension benefits, health care, backside improvements, and more.