CUP ELECTION ANALYSIS: COALITIONS RULE

by | 11.17.2010 | 12:46am
The startling election results for the Breeders' Cup board of members and trustees conducted among nominators to the program teaches us one thing about this relatively new process: no single farm or entity can stack the board with its own candidates.

That is driven home by the fact that Robert Clay of Three Chimneys Farms, the current vice chairman of the Breeders' Cup board of directors (the 14-person board elected by the 48 members and trustees), did not receive enough votes to retain his spot as a member/trustee. It is confirmed again by the election loss of James McAlpine, a longtime Magna executive associated with Frank Stronach, who presumably would have thrown the considerable clout of his Adena Springs Farm behind McAlpine in the Breeders' Cup election process that Stronach himself helped bring about through reforms in governance several years ago. (Those reforms were detailed in a two part series in the Paulick Report: Part 1, Part 2).

In voting conducted during the month of June, Breeders' Cup nominators received one vote for every $500 they paid in foal or stallion nominations. Stallion farms with the high-end stud fees obviously hold the most votes, since a $100,000 stud fee would give a farm 200 votes in the process. Yet even with a Three Chimneys stallion roster that currently includes $460,000 in annual “published” stud fees (and, thus, 920 votes, theoretically), Clay was unable to secure enough votes to retain his seat on the board of members and trustees.

As a result, Clay, who has served on numerous industry organization boards over the last 25 years, will not be eligible to run for re-election to a two-year term on the 14-member Breeders' Cup board of directors, the group that makes the key operational decisions for the organization. That election will be held during a meeting of the newly elected board of members and trustees in Lexington July 11. To be eligible to run for the board of directors, an individual must be on the larger board of members and trustees.

Just as consensus building is necessary to get federal legislation passed in Congress, individuals seeking seats as Breeders' Cup  members/trustees must build coalitions among different groups of nominators. Clay apparently did not do that; nor did three others seeking re-election on the board of members and trustees: Robert Cromartie, Leverett Miller, and Joseph Shields, Jr.

Elected to the board of members and trustees were Helen Alexander of Middlebrook Farm; Doug Cauthen of WinStar Farm; Bill Farish Jr. of Lane's End; Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds; Lucy Young Hamilton of Overbrook Farm; Maria Niarchos-Gouaze of Poseidon Services Inc; Charles Nuckols III of Nuckols Farm; Bill Oppenheim, a bloodstock agent who writes for Thoroughbred Daily News; Don Robinson of Winter Quarter Farm; Mark Taylor of Taylor Made Farm; Charlotte Weber of Live Oak Stud; and Barry Weisbord, publisher of Thoroughbred Daily News. Of that group, Alexander, Farish, Young Hamilton, Niarchos-Gouaze, Nuckols, and Taylor were re-elected.

In addition to Clay, Cromartie McAlpine, Miller and Shields, the following nominees to the board of members and trustees did not get enough votes for election: Bobby Flay, Arnold Kirkpatrick, Allan Lavin Jr. and Ric Waldman.

Seven of the 14 board of director seats will be open for nomination during the July 11 election, including the seats that have been held by Clay and Shields, whose terms expire. With their required departure, there will be at least two new members elected. In addition, the two-year terms of Antony Beck, current board chairman Bill Farish Jr., Terry Finley, R.D. Hubbard and Satish Sanan also expire, with each eligible for re-election.

The smaller board of director positions are staggered, and the following six individuals were elected to two-year terms in July 2007: Reynolds Bell Jr., Donald Dizney, Tracy Farmer, B. Wayne Hughes, G. Watts Humphrey Jr., and Robert Manfuso. The 14th board position is filled by the Breeders' Cup CEO, Greg Avioli.

It may be noteworthy that Clay, Miller and Shields were considered part of the “old guard,” as each are members of the Jockey Club, which for decades has tried to assert control over many industry organizations. Not everyone newly elected or re-elected to the board of members and trustees can be classified as “old guard” or “new guard,” but victories by Doug Cauthen, Bill Oppenheim and Barry Weisbord clearly indicate that efforts were made by nominators with large blocs of vote to inject new blood into the organization that runs the two-day championships scheduled to be held for the next two years during the Oak Tree Racing Association meeting at Santa Anita Park in Southern California.

What new alliances are formed among the newly seated board of members and trustees will determine who is retained, newly elected or rejected from the smaller board. That new board, to be seated in September, will determine whether Bill Farish will remain chairman and will also elect a vice chairman of the board. More importantly, the new board will control the fate of the Breeders' Cup—at least until the next election.

By Ray Paulick


Copyright ©2008, The Paulick Report

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