NTWAB Fall 2015 Newsletter

By Tom Pedulla, President

Originally posted Nov. 16, 2015
I am delighted to report that our 56th annual dinner, held on Oct. 28 at Griffin Gate Marriott in Lexington, Ky., was a rousing success. Loren Hebel-Osborne, our event planner and treasurer, was right when she urged that we look for a larger venue than normal.

We welcomed approximately 210 guests – double the previous year’s total – and Griffin Gate handled the large group with ease. HRRN broadcast the event for the first time. Many thanks to Mike Penna and his team for their outstanding coverage. Tom Leach, the voice of the Wildcats, did an excellent job of emceeing a program that moved swiftly while producing countless memorable moments. The silent auction, enthusiastically spearheaded by Alicia Wincze-Hughes, was highlighted by the sale of an American Pharoah halter for $8.500. The evening ended with a Bud Light toast to Jennie Rees to salute her fabulous career.

The program, featuring Skip Dickstein’s compelling cover photograph of American Pharoah, looked sharp. Graham Allen, our designer, worked deep into the night on many evenings to produce a 60-page layout loaded with color ads that will keep us financially strong. I would like to especially thank Richard Rosenblatt of Associated Press for editing all of the articles and Mike Kane, proofreader extraordinaire, for their work. We made $3,500 in charitable donations at the dinner, with the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund and Old Friends the leading recipients.

Ahmed Zayat, American Pharoah’s owner, in an emotional acceptance speech when he received the Mr. Fitz Award on behalf of the Triple Crown winner and his team, spoke of his desire to contribute $100,000 toward scholarships and internships . Now that the Keeneland November sale is over, we are following up with him on that pledge.

Thank you for allowing me the honor to serve as NTWAB president. I may be reached at tpedulla23@gmail.com or by cell, 646-337-6955.

Other Matters

Eclipse Award of Merit/Special Award. Your vice president, Mike Kane (mkane@ny.rr.com), and I are scheduled to participate in the first Eclipse Award Steering Committee conference call on Monday, Nov. 23. Please contact us with your nominations at your earliest convenience. We received a number of excellent suggestions from the membership last year and look forward to doing so again.

Westward Bound? Members are urged to volunteer to speak to students at the University of Arizona’s Racetrack Industry Program over a two-day period that will be mutually convenient in February. If you are interested, please send a fat paragraph summarizing your background to Doug Reed at the University of Arizona. His email is dreed@ag.arizona.edu; please copy tpedulla23@gmail.com. The decision will be made by Professor Reed in consultation with others at the school. The NTWAB will reimburse our representative for airfare, meals and incidentals. Arizona will provide housing at a nearby Marriott if possible. We plan to send a different speaker every year as long as our finances allow. Arizona grad Todd Pletcher donated $600 to help offset costs for 2016. Gary West, our first representative last year, received rave reviews. He will be a tough act to follow, but please apply! Applications will be accepted through the end of November.

New Website. Members who attended our Breeders’ Cup meeting authorized the expenditure of approximately $3,000 for the design and support of a new web site. Our current site has many limitations. Dick Downey, our webmaster, and I are confident the new site will be much more nimble and will allow us to introduce several new features we believe the membership will welcome. One of those will be a marketplace for professional opportunities, temporary housing, etc.

Author, Author! Bob Fortus and Gary West combined on a three-year project that resulted in a must-read book, “Ride to Win: An Inside Look at the Jockey’s Craft.” Copies may be purchased at www.jockeytalk360.com.

T.D. Thornton, another accomplished member, wrote “My Adventures with Your Money: George Graham Rice and the Golden Age of the Con Artist.” The book was published by St. Martin’s Press. Members who review books may request copies by contacting Christy Dagostini of St. Martin’s at Christy.Dagostini@stmartins.com.