Safety, Welfare, Public Perception: Thriving in a New Environment

Monday, December 9

Registration opens | Opening Evening Reception | Opening Exhibits

NHC Handicapping Contest Workshop | 3:00-5:00 pm
The NTRA is hosting an NHC Handicapping Contest Workshop for 
tournament directors as well as racetrack GMs, marketing directors and 
ADW executives. The two-hour session will cover contest formats, marketing tactics, insurance bonus programs and other factors that can help drive 
contest participation and revenue. The workshop is free to registered 
Symposium attendees who will also receive $500 off a 2020 NHC seat.


Tuesday, December 10

6:45-7:45am | Catalina Ballroom
Complimentary Breakfast

8:00–9:00 am | Salon A&B
Changing the Marketing Paradigm in Racing and Other Observations of the Sport
Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale is known in racing circles for his Eclipse Award winning sprinter Runhappy and outside of racing for his top-rated, independently owned furniture store, Gallery Furniture. Jim brought his unique marketing perspective to the furniture business and then to Runhappy. Jim shares his perspectives on marketing, racing and a number of other topics to the Symposium attendees.

9:00–9:30 am | Salon A&B
Horse Racing’s Social License to Operate
There is no question that society’s view of animals and how we interact with them is changing exponentially. These changes are not unique to the US – they are seen on a worldwide level. What does, and what should, the racing and non-racing public expect from the sport? How do we move forward to present racing to the general population?

Jennifer Durenberger, Principal, Racing Matters.

9:45–10:45 am | Salon A&B
Racing’s Safety and Welfare Initiatives
Safety reforms at tracks around the country are coming at an intense pace. Tracks are taking great steps to improve the oversight and safety of the equine athlete during both training and racing. Panelists who represent individual tracks, as well as a consortium of tracks that share a common region, share the critical details of the systems and procedures used across the country. They will also give insight into what they have found to be the best practices in an effort to create the safest possible racing environment.

Dr. Dionne Benson, Chief Veterinary Officer, The Stronach Group
Jill Byrne, Vice President Racing Operations, Colonial Downs
Dan Fick, Accredited Steward and ROAP Board Chairman 
Alan Foreman, Chairman/CEO, Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association 

11:00am–Noon | Salon A&B
Maintaining the Critical Mass in Racing:
The Owners

Increasing the number of horses in the racing population is paramount to the survival of the industry, but so is expanding the reach and participation in other areas such as ownership of those horses. Panelists discuss unique and successful strategies that bring people already interested in racing “up close and personal” with the ownership side of the sport and bring members of the general population to racing as well.

The Players
Hear racing and wagering insights from the biggest bettors on the planet. It’s a well-known fact that on a per capita basis Australians bet more than any other nationality. They also have a well-regulated industry with both racing and sports rubbing shoulders on the same wagering platforms and where - in a country as crazy for sports as America – racing still commands the lion’s share of betting volume. Hear about lessons learned in Australia, the need for innovation, and why US sportsbooks shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a threat to racing’s handle.

Michael Behrens, Founder and CEO,
TK Kuegler, Founder and Managing Partner, Wasabi Ventures Stables

Jim Mulvihill, Sr. Director of Betting Information, Churchill Downs Incorporated (Moderator)

Jason Neave, CEO, Punt Club

Jake Henson, COO, The Betmakers

Noon | Catalina Ballroom
Tuesday Luncheon and Awards
Presented by the Race Track Industry Program, Racing Officials Accreditation Program and the Turf Publicists of America.

1:30-2:30pm | Salon A&B
Mark Kaufman Workshop
Presented by the Turf Publicists of America.
Representatives of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition will discuss the creation of the coalition as a vehicle for collaboration within the Thoroughbred racing community, as well as cover how to talk about safety in a challenging media environment.

Jason Miner, Executive Managing Director, Glover Park Group
Chip Tuttle, Partner, CTP

2:00pm | Executive Boardroom
International Tote Protocol Meeting
Open to all symposium attendees. (to run concurrently with afternoon sessions)

2:45-3:15pm | Salon A&B
Continuing the Quest for the Safest Racing Surface: The Natural Racing Surface
Panelists discuss the components the Maintenance Quality System (MQS) which include: original surface design and established standard operating procedures, seasonal assessment (OBST, Ground Penetrating Radar, RSTL materials analysis), and daily tracking and measurement (maintenance log, work/race-times, weather variables, materials inputs) from those who oversee the track on a daily basis. Also on tap are some “out of the box” ideas whose time may be now.

Steve Byk, Host, At the Races with Steve Byk, SiriusXM
Dan Coon, Partner, Coon & Associates LLC
Mick Peterson, Professor of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, University of Kentucky; Executive Director of Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory

Glen Kozak, Senior Vice President, Operations & Capital Projects, The New York Racing Association

3:15-3:45pm | Salon A&B
Continuing the Quest for the Safest Racing Surface: Taking Another Look at Synthetic Surfaces
The racing industry has seen the use of synthetic tracks expand and then, due to a variety of issues, decline with a transition back to a natural surface. Panelists revisit the safety factors associated with a synthetic track surface as well as the maintenance issues and viability of these tracks in the US racing environment.

Steve Byk, Host, At the Races with Steve Byk, SiriusXM
Michael Dickinson, President, Tapeta

Irwin Driedger, Former Director of Thoroughbred Racing Surfaces, Woodbine

3:45-5:00pm | Exhibit Area
RTIP Student Presentations

4:00-5:30pm | Salon A&B
Media Relations Workshop: How to Manage Racing’s Message in the Media
In this workshop, attendees will learn the strategies and skills used by major companies when interacting with the media.  Greg Peck, media training professional whose clients include ExxonMobil, the Republican National Committee as well as the trainer of 2009 Hambletonian winner Muscle Hill, will be leading this timely and important session. Topics will include: how to change the public “conversation” via the media, persuading those who can be persuaded, techniques to contain media coverage, promoting track attendance, the do’s and don’ts of all media interview formats and much more.

Greg Peck, Media Training Professional

Evening Networking Reception


Wednesday, December 11 

6:45-7:45am | Catalina Ballroom
Complimentary Breakfast

6:45-7:45am | Ventana Room
Prayer Breakfast – Hosted by the Race Track Chaplaincy of America
Executive Director Dan Waites and his special guests share a meal and 
celebrate fellowship in the racing community

8:00-9:30pm | Salon A&B
A Personal Perspective of Racing’s Past, Present and Future

Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher will share their racing experiences and unique stories associated with their Hall of Fame and Eclipse Award winning careers as well as current events.

Bob Baffert, Trainer
Todd Pletcher, Trainer
Amy Zimmerman, Vice President and Director of Broadcasting, The Stronach Group

9:45-10:45am | Salon A&B
Maintaining the Critical Mass in Racing: The Equine Population
Increasing the number of horses in the racing population is paramount to the survival of the industry.  Panelists from the production side of the equation will offer insights to increasing the number of horses being produced in both regional and national markets in order to turn the tide on the ongoing decline in the number of foals produced each year.

Doug Burge, President, California Thoroughbred Breeders Association

Jeff Cannizzo, Executive Director, New York Thoroughbred Breeders Association

Lonny Powell, CEO, Florida Thoroughbred Owners’ and Breeders’ Association
Brian Sanfratello, Executive Secretary, Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association

Andrew Schweigardt, Director of Industry Relations and Development, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (Moderator/Speaker)

11:00-11:45am | Salon A&B
Making the Grade in North America
Although everyone involved in racing understands what races designated as G1 or G2 means, what is not known to many is the process it takes to get there. Panelists provide a behind the scenes look at evaluating and grading North American stakes races and will shed light on how those decisions are made.

Everett Dobson, Chairman, American Graded Stakes Committee

Martin Panza, Senior Vice President, Racing Operations, New York Racing Association
Andrew Schweigardt, Director of Industry Relations and Development, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association

11:45am-12:30pm | Salon A&B
The Digital Age of Breed Registries and Horse Identification
Panelists will take an in-depth look at TRPB Digital tattoos, Jockey Club electronic certificates (both applicable starting in 2020) as well as the identification procedures used by other racing breeds. This panel is a must for all those who will be working with the new digital certificates in racing and breeding.

Chris Dobbins, Vice President, Business Development, InCompass
Curtis Linnell, Executive Vice President, TRPB
Mike Tanner, Executive Vice President USTA

12:30pm | Ventana Room
Mentor Lunch (by invitation)

2:00-3:00pm | Salon A&B
Racing and Television – Unleashing the Opportunity of Increased Exposure
With all the television time dedicated to racing on FOX, NBC and TVG, the racing industry needs to seize the opportunity and maximize the benefits. Panelists look at the positives associated with the increased hours including sponsorship, race time, and the strategies that can be used to expand the ability to engage the general population in racing and promote racing’s message.

Tony Allevato, Chief Revenue Officer, President, NYRA Bets
Kevin Grigsby, Executive Producer & VP of Television, TVG
Alexander M. Waldrop, President & CEO, NTRA

Amy Zimmerman, Vice President and Director of Broadcasting, The Stronach Group; Producer, NBC Sports

3:15-4:15pm | Salon A&B
Listening to the Racing Customer

The attention paid to the general population and their perspective on racing is undeniably important.
But there’s another population who is equally important and that’s the perspective of the horseplayer.  Panelists share realistic perspectives of what they expect from tracks and the industry as a whole. This is especially timely as wagering opportunities on all sports are expanding and the expectations of racing is increasing.

Pat Cummings, Executive Director, Thoroughbred Idea Foundation

Marshall Gramm, Professor and Chair of Economics, Rhodes College, Horseplayer

Rick Hammerle, Racing Coordinator, Oaklawn Park (Moderator)
Jonathon Kinchen, In The Money Players Podcast, Host; FOX Sports Racing Analyst

Sal Sinatra, President, Maryland Jockey Club

4:15-5:00pm | Salon A&B
Good News Stories of Racing: A Look at the Rebirth of Racing in Virginia

A number of tracks around the country have seen a rebirth thanks to the benefits of HHR revenues. Hear directly from those who made Colonial Downs such a good news story for racing as they worked together and brought racing back to Virginia. 

Jill Byrne, Vice President Racing Operations, Colonial Downs

Frank Petramalo, Executive Director, Virginia H.B.P.A
Debbie Easter, Executive Director, Virginia Thoroughbred Association

Evening Networking Reception