NTWAB Spring 2016 Newsletter

By Alicia Wincze Hughes, President
Posted May 16, 2016
Greeting fellow members,


First and foremost, some introductions are in order. During our bi-annual meeting during the week of the 142nd Kentucky Derby, myself and Greg Hall had the honor of being elected to succeed Tom Pedulla and Mike Kane in the positions of president and vice president, respectively, of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association.

Both Tom and Mike have served this organization in a most admirable manner for several years, guiding us through some major initiatives – including a paid internship for a Kentucky journalism student and the successful program of sending a NTWAB representative to the University of Arizona’s Racetrack Industry Program each season – not to mention crucial work with Eclipse Awards Steering Committee. Please join us in collectively giving thanks to Tom and Mike for making this organization as strong and sound as it has been in many years. And know that their brains will continue to be picked on a regular basis.

We also welcome Dick Downey of The Downey Profile to the position of treasurer, succeeding Loren Hebel-Osborne. I can not overstate the level of yeoman-type work Loren has done in that position over the years. She pulled the organization out of a dark time financially and has us back on very solid ground. She is also the MVP of our annual dinner, and, I am glad to say, she will still serve as our Awards Dinner chair. Loren, we will never be able to thank you enough for the work you have done. Dick, we are truly grateful for you taking on this most crucial of roles.

I am also pleased to report that Jessie Oswald was re-elected to her position as secretary. Jessie is another who is beyond invaluable to this organization. We welcome her for a full term in helping to keep this train on the rails.

Our annual meeting also saw the election of three new members to our Board of Directors in Frank Angst and Tom LaMarra of Blood-Horse and Nicole Russo of Daily Racing Form. The election of myself and Greg as officers created vacancies in our at-large director terms. After inviting anyone interested at the Derby meeting to apply, the board selected former presidents Tom Law of the Saratoga Special and Jay Privman of DRF and NBC to serve the remainder of the terms that expire next May. Both graciously agreed.

Our Treasurer’s report yielded positive news. The NTWAB currently has $11,469 in our charitable fund, $14,612 in our spending account, $12,496 in our Vanguard Fund, and $53,515 in our Index fund.

Because it is never too early to start looking ahead, the Altadena Town and Country Club has been selected as the site of our annual dinner to be held during the week of this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Park. Our previous visits to Altadena have received high marks, and we have every hope for another outstanding program this season. If anyone wants to get a head start on gathering items for our silent auction, you have my blessing and gratitude.

Those who attended our very successful dinner last year in Lexington may remember that owner Ahmed Zayat made a generous pledge of $100,000 to our organization for the creation of scholarships. That pledge has not yet been honored despite efforts by our board members to present Mr. Zayat with a variety of options on how he would be most comfortable distributing such funds. We will continue to try and reach out to Mr. Zayat to see what is possible regarding his pledge.

Other News

KENTUCKY DERBY/CHURCHILL DOWNS: As we are fresh off this year’s Kentucky Derby, please feel free to contact me with any significant issues that were encountered during the coverage of this year’s race. By and large, this year seemed to be clicking along relatively painlessly in terms of getting to and from the track, getting through security on Oaks and Derby day and getting post-race access.

However, that was derailed somewhat Saturday night after the Derby when a contingent of about 25 media members (myself included) were left standing in the rain for over 40 minutes shortly after 10 p.m. when shuttle drivers were telling us there were no more media shuttles running – despite the fact they were supposed to run until 11 p.m. After a couple of calls to John Asher and Darren Rogers, a shuttle did arrive. A follow-up conversation about the matter was held Sunday morning and rest assured, we will continue to address such issues – as well as the continued lack of a print Derby media guide – going forward.

NEW MEMBERS: Please welcome Jonathan Lintner (Louisville Courier-Journal), Mary Rampellini (DRF), Sandra McKee (Freelance) and Scott Shapiro (Horse Racing Nation) as regular members of the NTWAB.

To all members, please keep in mind when recommending someone new that this is a professional organization, and, candidates must be able to demonstrate that they have been paid for work by an entity not tied to a racetrack or the industry. If you know of anyone wishing to apply, our next vote of new members will take place during our meeting at Santa Anita Park during Breeders’ Cup week. Please have them send their application letter (email), examples of their work, and letters of support from two current members in good standing to Jessie Oswald at jboswald68@gmail.com.

CHARITY: In keeping with our tradition of making a donation to local industry-related charities as part of our annual dinner, the membership approved a motion to make donations of $500 apiece to CARMA (assists retired racehorses in California), Gregson Foundation (college scholarships to children of backstretch workers), and Winner’s Foundation (aids licensees with alcohol/substance abuse issues) for this season’s event. A $200 donation to The Jockey Club in the name of Dinny Phipps that had been approved by the board was also announced.

DUES: For those who have not already done so, please pay your annual dues at your earliest convenience by sending a check for $50, payable to National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, to our treasurer, Dick Downey, 1320 Edgewood Ave, Bowling Green, KY 42103. Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.