The election process for five seats on the Breeders' Cup Board of Directors begins Friday, and in the wake of the controversial decision in March to change direction on medication policy it will be a hotly contested vote.
The only individuals eligible to run and to vote in the Board of Directors election are the 48 men and women who serve as Breeders' Cup Members. Thirty-nine of the Members are elected in a proportional vote by breeders who nominate stallions or foals to the program (each foal nomination equals one vote, as does each $500 in a nominated stallion's stud fee). The others on this larger panel are either Founding Members of the organization or past presidents.
Click here to see who currently serves as Members or Directors.
An online vote among Breeders' Cup Members takes place July 9-15. Votes also may be cast in person at a Members meeting on July 16. One of the first duties of the newly elected Board will be the election of officers, including a chairman. Tom Ludt, the current chairman, stated his intention to step down from that role after taking a management position with the Stronach Group, owner of several racetracks including Santa Anita Park.
Three incumbents are expected to run: Jerry Crawford of Donegal Stables, Roy Jackson of Lael Stables, and Thoroughbred Daily News co-publisher Barry Weisbord, who also owns and breeds Thoroughbreds. Jackson and Crawford previously were elected Directors by Breeders' Cup Members. Weisbord replaced Woodbine Entertainment's David Willmot in a special vote of the Board of Directors. In that election, after a deadlocked vote between candidates Weisbord and Bill Oppenheim, rules called for a coin toss that Weisbord won.
The two other open positions in this year's Board of Directors election were formerly held by Darley's Oliver Tait, who resigned his position over the medication vote in March, and Padua Stable's Satish Sanan, who resigned in May after saying he was being unfairly criticized by the board for speaking to the press about Breeders' Cup issues.
The March vote prompting Tait's resignation was a decision to permit the race-day use of the anti-bleeding diuretic furosemide in races for horses aged 3 and up at the 2013 Breeders' Cup. In 2011 the Breeders' Cup Board of Directors voted to phase out Lasix over two years: banning it in 2-year-old races in 2012 and in all races beginning in 2013.
The decision to maintain the Lasix ban on 2-year-old races in 2013 but permit the drug in all other races is the first step toward reverting to previous policy that followed existing medication policy in the jurisdiction hosting the Breeders' Cup. Lasix was not permitted for any races in 1985 at Aqueduct or 1990 at Belmont Park. New York was the last Lasix holdout, authorizing the drug's use in 1995.
Horsemen in several states, including California where the Thoroughbred Owners of California voted against holding a Lasix-free Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita in 2014, have pressured the organization to give up the medication fight.
It is expected that issue will be foremost among those discussed by candidates and voters in this upcoming election.
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