A Better Breeders’ Cup Board: Something Old, Something New

by | 07.25.2014 | 2:51am

Change is good. But not too much change.

I think the Breeders' Cup Members got it just right in the runoff election earlier this week when Bill Farish of Lane's End Farm was re-elected to a four-year term on the Breeders' Cup board of directors over which he serves as chairman. The other candidate for that spot, horse owner and celebrity chef Bobby Flay, will serve a one-year term and is eligible for re-election to a full term next year.

Flay's addition to the governing board is a positive move for the organization because he brings a fresh perspective and proven experience in the area of hospitality, entertainment and television, all of them important elements for the two-day championships that will be held for the third consecutive year at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., on Oct. 31-Nov. 1.

Incumbent Antony Beck of Gainesway Farm won the other runoff election over Louisville businessman and long-time horse owner/breeder Bruce Lunsford, who was making his first bid for a Breeders' Cup board position. While I'm sure Lunsford would have brought great business acumen and a fresh perspective to the board, Beck's presence as an experienced member of the panel with ties to the organization's past is just as important.

In fact, a board of directors with a balanced blend of new and old should benefit the Breeders' Cup the most, and that's exactly what the organization now has. Joining Farish and Beck as long-term board members are three others: Clem Murphy of Coolmore, Roy Jackson of Lael Stables and Tom Ludt, who was elected while head of Vinery and now is president of Santa Anita Park.

The other eight board seats have been filled by newcomers over the last three years. Bret Jones of Airdrie Stud was elected in 2011; Barry Weisbord of Thoroughbred Daily News joined the board in 2012; European-based journalist Bill Oppenheim, Kentucky owner-breeder David Richardson, and WinStar Farm president and CEO W. Elliott Walden were elected in 2013; and Stonestreet Farm's Barbara Banke, Dan Pride, chief operating officer of Darley; and Flay joined the board this year.

The Breeders' Cup is the most important “industry-owned” asset we have. Echo chambers are not a good thing, at least in my opinion, but neither is constant tension and turmoil or a haphazard policy of throwing stuff up against the wall and seeing what sticks. This board is poised to integrate new ideas with the traditions that have made the Breeders' Cup an enormous success. Industry stakeholders are counting on these individuals to work together to the benefit of us all.

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