A NEW SUNRISE ON CUP TRANSPARENCY?

by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am
By Ray Paulick
The Breeders' Cup has begun to let the sun shine on the annual election process that determines who ultimately sits on the organization's board of directors. For the first time this year, the Breeders' Cup has decided to publish a roster of eligible voters and their available number of votes; complete results of its elections, with vote counts for winners and losers; it is requiring candidates for the board of directors be declared prior to the annual meeting, with no nominations to be accepted from the floor; has established on-line voting for both the members and trustees election and for the board of directors; and its officers have agreed to abstain from voting in the board of directors election.

The process began on Monday, May 4, when stallion and foal nominators could begin nominating candidates to run for 13 openings on the 48-person Breeders' Cup board of members and trustees. By now, nominators should have received a letter from the Breeders' Cup with a customer login and passcode to access a secure voting website that will be open for one week until May 11. Individuals must receive a minimum of 50 votes to be nominated (one vote is assigned for each foal nominated to the Breeders' Cup and one vote for each $500 in stud fees for nominated stallions). There are 39 elected positions on the board of members and trustees, each with three-year terms, and 13 positions are up for election every year. The other individuals on the board of members and trustees are founding members of the Breeders' Cup, past presidents and corporate officers.

When nominators go to the voting site, they should have access to a complete list of nominators and the total votes each nominator is eligible to cast. The disclosure of the nominators and number of votes is new to this year's election.

The next step (from May 12-15), following the closing of nominations, is tabulation of the list of nominees. Individuals that received the required 50 votes are sent a consent form and will be requested to provide a short biography and suitable photo.

On May 18, True Ballot, a company that specializes in elections for labor unions, professional organizations, etc., mails nominators a letter with customer login and password information for secure online election voting. Nominators may request a paper ballot if they prefer.

Voting for the members and trustees election is open from June 1-15 among all nominators to the Breeders' Cup program.

Following are the 13 members and trustees whose terms are expiring this year: John Amerman, Boyd Browning, Alice Chandler, Donald Dizney, Tracy Farmer, Tom Ludt, Clem Murphy, B. Wayne Hughes, Ogden Mills Phipps, Dan Pride, Richard Santulli, John Sikura, and Frank Stronach. These members and trustees whose terms are expiring are automatically re-nominated unless they opt out of the election.

On June 22, True Ballot will report the results of the members and trustees election and Breeders' Cup will publish the results. Those results won't be made official, however, until the annual meeting of members and trustees is held on July 9, and the candidates with the most votes are put up for election by the existing members and trustees. Prior to the vote at the annual meeting, according to section 4.2 of the Breeders' Cup bylaws, nominations from the floor can also be made by members and trustees.

All members and trustees wishing to be candidates for two-year terms on the smaller board of directors have until 5 p.m. on June 30 to submit their names to Jim Philpott, the Breeders' Cup corporate secretary. While the election for those open board positions (there are six this year) is conducted during the July 9 annual meeting of members and trustees, individuals unable to attend may vote through the election web site or via proxy, provided the member holding the proxy reveal the identity of each proxy he or she has received at the annual meeting. Each member is entitled to vote for up to six candidates.

The six board members whose two-year terms expire in July are: Reynolds Bell, Don Dizney, Tracy Farmer, Don Robinson (who is serving the remainder of the term of B. Wayne Hughes, who resigned from the board in January), G. Watts Humphrey, and Robert Manfuso. There are 13 elected board members, plus Breeders' Cup president/CEO Greg Avioli.

Breeders' Cup will publish the results of the board election, including votes, at the conclusion of the July 9 meeting.

Officers are elected at a subsequent meeting of the newly elected board of directors. According to Breeders' Cup bylaws, no individual may serve more than five consecutive years as chairman or vice chairman of the board. Bill Farish of Lane's End Farm is in his third year as chairman.

In a memo to the Breeders' Cup members and trustees, Farish outlined the changes to this year's election (publication of vote totals by nominator, full election results, on-line voting for both elections, proxy procedures, and officers electing to abstain in board of director election). “These changes to the election procedures are intended to provide full transparency to all nominators and ensure confidence in the election process,” Farish said in the memo.

The changes were requested by members and trustees who felt previous elections lacked sufficient transparency.

Additional changes have been requested, including amendments to the bylaws that would eliminate voting in the election for the board of directors by current officers (they have voluntarily abstained from the upcoming election); voting in the board of election by past presidents (James E. Bassett III and D.G. Van Clief Jr.); and voting in the board of election by founding members of the Breeders' Cup, some of whom are no longer active in the Thoroughbred industry.

I'll have my own thoughts on the Breeders' Cup election process in a follow-up commentary tomorrow.

Copyright © 2009, The Paulick Report

 

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