Four owners and seven trainers – including one trainer whose entries currently are not being accepted by Gulfstream Park or Tampa Bay Downs – were nominated earlier this month to run for the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association board of directors.
The four owners nominated for two open positions (plus one alternate spot) are: Chester Bishop, Kathy Davie, Joanie Rose-Needell, and Teresa Palmer. Bishop and Davie currently serve on the board and Rose-Needell is an alternate.
Seven trainers nominated for two open positions, plus one alternate are: Jena Antonucci, Larry Bates, Larry Pilotti, Ronald Spatz, Charles Simon, Carlo Vaccarezza, and Marcus Vitali. Bates, Spatz and Vaccarezza are incumbents, with Pilotti currently serving as alternate.
In addition to the four open positions and two alternate spots, the individual receiving the fifth-highest number of votes (either owner or trainer) will serve in an at-large seat on the board.
Voting will commence in early February and close in mid-March.
Vitali, who served on the HBPA board until temporarily relinquishing his trainer's license earlier this year, currently is unable to enter horses at either Gulfstream Park or Tampa Bay Downs because of allegations he used a program trainer during the time he had turned in his license and later while serving a suspension for a number of Class IV medication violations. He currently is licensed by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering.
According to Glen Berman, executive director of the FHBPA, Vitali fulfills the requirements to run for a board position, having had at least five starters in the previous 12 months.
Berman confirmed that William P. White, the FHBPA president, told the board recently he may not have the requisite number of starts as an owner to qualify. White, a former trainer who retired at the end of 2014, has had only a handful of starts, including horses he was listed by Equibase as owning in partnership with either Vitali or Vaccarezza for just one or two races.
A motion made to disqualify White from the board did not receive a second.
CORRECTION: The original photo caption stating Florida HBPA president William P. White may not have enough starts as an owner to be eligible for the board was incorrect. When the board failed to second a motion removing White from the board, the issue was resolved.
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