An Open Letter to Horsemen

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In the next few days, you may be receiving a ballot for the election of the President and Board of Directors of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. As the saying goes “elections have consequences”. We agree. While we might not normally involve ourselves in a local election, the consequences of this election have the potential, like no other, to affect all horsemen and we feel compelled to speak.

Rick Violette has been a consequential and influential voice for horsemen, both locally and nationally, for 20 years. His selfless and tireless devotion to the best interests of his fellow horsemen, the backstretch workers, the welfare of the horse, the integrity and welfare of our sport and a successful racing and breeding industry in New York is unrivaled in our industry, as is his record of achievement. The NYTHA Board will tell you that Rick has been a true leader and the driving force behind NYTHA’s success. Rick will tell you that his success is the result of having been able to work in a collaborative fashion with a diverse and committed Board of Directors who shares his commitment and vision. Few would disagree that under Rick’s leadership, NYTHA has become a role model for a horsemen’s organization in every respect.

Under Rick’s leadership, NYTHA successfully:

• Navigated New York’s horsemen through the NYRA bankruptcy, recovering in excess of $20 million in horsemen’s funds and purse money that had been misappropriated and miscalculated.

• Negotiated a successful agreement with the state legislature that allocated 7.5% of NYRA’s share of slot revenue to purses, an agreement that was subsequently codified by the New York legislature, that has led to the highest purse structure for horsemen in racing.

• Organized a joint effort by all facets of the New York racing industry, including the standardbred industry, to promote the economic impact and benefits of the racing industry to all New Yorkers. Rick is highly respected in Albany and, together with NYTHA’s legislative team, has protected racing and the interests of New York’s horsemen in difficult times for the State’s racing industry.

• Violette has helped develop a strong and harmonious bond with New York’s breeders.

• He is an ardent advocate of year-round racing in New York.

• He has been a driving force behind the development and implementation of the Mid-Atlantic (now National) Uniform Medication and Drug Testing Program and efforts directed at horse welfare. With the support of the NYTHA Board, he has continually directed NYTHA funds to the New York Equine Drug Testing and Research Program to purchase cutting-edge equipment and to conduct necessary research.

• Violette has been instrumental in developing New York’s aftercare program, has been a key player in national aftercare efforts, and has been a pioneer in working to transition retired thoroughbreds to the show horse industry.

• He was instrumental in getting New York to enact legislation providing workers compensation for jockeys and exercise riders and has long been President of the New York Jockey Injury Compensation Fund. Rick is an expert on this issue and he has been focused on bringing down insurance costs.

• Violette has also overseen the largest backstretch benevolence program of any organization in racing.

• Most importantly, he has been a watchdog for his horsemen as a director, both official and ex-officio, as NYTHA’s representative on the NYRA Board.

New York horsemen should be indebted to Rick for his dogged pursuit of their best interests on the NYRA Board. We can tell you, having worked with Rick and the NYTHA Board both regionally and nationally, that Rick is, and has been, an impact player on almost every issue affecting horsemen. Rick was a founding member of the THA in 1994 and has been this group’s President since 1998, leading THA to become the most influential and respected horsemen’s organization in the country. There is not a horsemen’s organization in the country that has not at one time or another needed support in some form and Rick has always been among the first to step to the plate. Those of us at THA know this all too well.

Rick Violette has been our voice for the divisive issue of race day medication and the ongoing effort by certain interests in our industry for federal intervention in our sport. Rick has our full support and the overwhelming support of our membership on these issues. As we said in our letter to the industry this past August and as Rick and the NYTHA Board have made clear, we are collectively opposed to any change in the current policy permitting the administration of Lasix to our horses under tightly controlled regulatory restrictions until the science suggests otherwise.

The choice could not be clearer. For all he has done for all horsemen, all of our organizations throughout the country and for racing, we wholeheartedly and without reservation ask you to show your support and appreciation by casting your ballot for Rick Violette and the incumbent NYTHA directors.

Thank you,

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