Spring 2017 NTWAB Newsletter

By Alicia Wincze Hughes, President
Posted April 10, 2017


Greetings fellow NTWAB members,

I hope this finds all of you well as we ready ourselves for the whirlwind that is Triple Crown season. Apologies for the delay between newsletter editions. As many of you know, I accepted the position of Racing Editor with Blood-Horse Publications in October and while that transition has presented several outstanding opportunities, it has also been one that has kept my plate fairly jam-packed.

Before delving into some current NTWAB matters, a brief on some major events that transpired in recent months.

- NTWAB DINNER 2016: Despite going head to head with the Cubs breaking their 108-year drought between World Series victories, the 2016 NTWAB dinner at Altadena Town and Country Club was a standout affair, highlighted by the presence of our honorees Dave Johnson, Rene Douglas, Hank Wesch, and members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. Honoree Russell Baze was unable to attend. Per our treasurer Dick Downey, all the program ads, tables, seats and silent auction items are paid in full, and all our 2016 donations have been paid in full. A full copy of the financial report for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2016 is attached here to this newsletter.

While the dinner venue and company were top notch, one issue that came to light was the performance of the silent auction items. We had an exceptional lineup of items -- including several limited-edition prints -- but the on-site bidding was extremely tepid with several items barely going for the minimum bid. Given that the select items offered in the online auction performed extremely well, including a set of shoes from Beholder that went for $750, we are looking at offering the majority of our auction items exclusively online this season since it allows for a broader base of bidders.  We will certainly have more details on that as we move closer to this year's dinner. Speaking of which...

- SAVE THE DATE: Thanks to the usual outstanding diligence from our event coordinator Loren Hebel-Osborne, we have already secured The Brigantine Seafood and Oyster Bar as our venue for the 2017 NTWAB dinner taking place THURSDAY, Nov. 2. the week of this year's Breeders' Cup at Del Mar. For those who have never been there, The Brigantine is basically to Del Mar what Siro's is to Saratoga. It has a gorgeous outdoor patio overlooking the track/ocean that accommodates 120 people as well as an adjoining dining room which accommodates an additional 60.  They do not charge a fee to rent the space itself, so we can eat and drink our monies.

After consulting with Jim Gluckson and Bryan Pettigrew of Breeders' Cup, we made the decision to move the dinner from its usual Wednesday slot to Thursday in an attempt to avoid going up against some already scheduled Breeders' Cup events. Bryan Pettigrew said that by moving our dinner to Thursday, Breeders' Cup can put it on their official list of events, help promote it, and help funnel attendees our way. Fingers crossed that between that and our excellent venue, this could be our best dinner in many years.

- BREEDERS' CUP 2017: I have also reached out to Jim Gluckson to discuss some of the logistical challenges holding the event at Del Mar will present so that those of us covering the event know well in advance what we're going to be dealing with. Jim has offered to put together and send over a memo summarizing the coverage plans and media access for this year. I hope to have that to present at our Kentucky Derby week meeting. Which leads us to....

- DERBY WEEK MEETING: Our meeting at Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby week will be held THURSDAY May 4 at noon in the media briefing room. We are shifting from our usual Wednesday meeting slot to Thursday as we've routinely gotten responses from people asking if the meeting could be later because they’re not coming in until Wednesday evening.

- MEETING AGENDA: In addition to reviewing/voting on new membership applications, one of the main topics on the agenda for our May meeting will be a proposed bylaw amendment that clarifies and redefines what exactly qualifies someone for membership in the NTWAB. With full-time turf writer positions at traditional print newspapers having been virtually eliminated as of 2017, a committee consisting of Vice President Greg Hall and directors Marty McGee and Jay Privman met to consider a broader definition of what qualifies an individual for membership. A vote of the membership is planned for the Kentucky Derby week meeting.

Clearly the lines have become more blurred in this Internet age, but the emphasis remains on eligibility for membership being restricted to those “actively and professionally engaged in the coverage of Thoroughbred racing.” Anyone engaged in (1) publicity or non-journalistic work for a racetrack or horse owner or other such entities; or (2) in self-perpetuated blogs lacking commercial viability and/or an adherence to traditional journalistic standards; or (3) in working solely as a race-caller, racing official or track photographer, shall not necessarily be disqualified, but the individual seeking membership must be able to meet the traditional journalistic definition of “coverage” in at least one area of his or her work, regardless of the medium wherein they are engaged. Final decisions in this regard shall ultimately be determined by the Board and membership.

The other change is to create a provision for a tenured member who spent a sufficient time covering the sport to remain eligible for membership regardless of whether still employed in that role -- a similar provision already exists for past presidents. This is envisioned to offer longstanding members the same consideration, particularly if someone like that was laid off through no fault of their own. The full text of the amendment proposal will be displayed on the NTWAB website.

- MEMBERSHIP UPDATE: Some of you may be receiving a letter soon as part of a review of the NTWAB's membership roster. This review is not intended to be a purge, but, instead, to make sure that everyone on our roster is properly classified as a regular or associate member and that they still qualify. If you receive a letter, please respond accordingly to demonstrate whether your classification is appropriate and whether you wish to remain a member. Thanks in advance for your help in this matter.

- NEW MEMBERS: If you know of anyone seeking to apply for membership to the NTWAB, they have until NOON on Sunday, April 30 to submit an application of their qualifications along with TWO letters of support from current members in good standing to secretary Jessie Oswald at jboswald68@gmail.com.

- BOARD POSITIONS: The three board positions that will be up for re-election are those of Marty McGee, Jay Privman (completing Alicia’s term) and Tom Law (completing Greg's term). Those interested in running for any of those positions can also submit such interest to Jessie Oswald at jboswald68@gmail.com by NOON Sunday, April 30.