Fair Convention Minutes

MINUTES

Quaker State/PASS/USTA Meeting

Date: January 17, 2008

Time: 1:40 P. M.

Place: Hershey Lodge and Convention Center

Present:
Katricia Adams – Dayton Fair
Ron Battoni – PHHA
Earl Beal – Judge
Cheryl Bender – Erie County Fair
Sue Brickell – Secretary/Treasurer PA State Association of County Fairs
Deb Britcher – Perry County
Paul Britcher, Jr. – Perry County
Fonda Civitello – PASS Administrator, PAHRC
Cheryl Cook – Acting Executive Secretary of Racing, PA Dept of Agriculture
Gerry Connors – Director, Breeders Fund
Judy Davis – Charter
Walter “Boots” Dunn – USTA Representative & Crawford County Fair
Peter Fink – Starter
Jeff Firmstone – Wayne County
John Flick – Bloomsburg Fair
Tom Futcher – Judge
Jack Gumpper – Wayne County
Kim Hankins – MSOA Executive Director
Nan Hanshaw, VMD – PA Dept of Agriculture
Gretchen Harper – PA Dept of Agriculture
Junior Hartner – Erie County Fair
Connie Holt – Charter
Ginger Jones – Clerk of Course
Ralph Jones – Judge
Audre King – Clerk of Course
Anton Leppler – Deputy Director of Harness Racing, PAHRC
John Marshall – The Meadows
Larry Marshall – Greene County Fair
Jody McClearn – Assistant Clerk of Course
John McMullen – Indiana County Fair & President PA QS/PASS Association
Judy McMullen – Indiana County Fair
Ron Neeper – Clearfield County Fair
Kris Rickert – Stoneboro Fair
Yvette Rickert – Stoneboro Fair
Lee Robinson – Washington County Fair
Ed Rogers – PAHRC Emeritus
Tanya Schadel – Gratz Fair
K. Terry Schoeffel – PAFHHA
Virginia Schoeffel – PAFHHA
Luida Shearer – Indiana County Fair
Debbie Stephenson – Greene County Fair
Donna Syster – Indiana County Fair
Sandy Tetkoskie – PAHRC
Melinda Tucker – Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
Jeanne Urban – Clearfield County Fair
Ken Weaver – Dayton Fair
Roy Wilt – Commissioner PAHRC
Dennis Wolff – PA Secretary of Agriculture
Don Young – York Fair
Doug Young – York Fair

President John McMullen called the meeting to order. Agendas for today and minutes from January 19, 2007, were distributed.

MOMENT OF SILENCE
A moment of silence was observed for those who had passed away in 2007, including:

Ron Battoni’s father
Richard Bicehouse – owner/trainer/driver, of Butler, PA who raced at the Meadows and at PA & OH fairs.
Ronna Brickell – co-owner with husband David of successful PA stable of Smicksburg, PA.
Roy Carson – co-owner and former supporter of Dayton Fair racing of Rural Valley, PA. Helped with track maintenance during the fair.
E. Jack Koons – long-time owner and Gratz Fair supporter of Millersburg, PA.
Ray Lineweaver – owner/trainer/driver of PA & MD fairs for over 50 years and Rosecroft Raceway of Woodstock, VA.
Marty Urban – mother of Jeanne Urban, Clearfield County Fair.

RESTRUCTURING OF PA STATE HARNESS AND HORSE RACING COMMISSIONS
On January 15, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced the consolidation of the administrative offices for thoroughbred and Standardbred racing for the purpose of improving equine racing operations in PA. According to the press release, the intent is to streamline operations and eliminate duplication of effort. The State Harness Racing and Horse Racing Commissions will remain separate entities.

Dennis C. Wolff, PA Secretary of Agriculture, introduced Cheryl Cook, currently Deputy Secretary for Marketing and Economic Development and in addition the Acting Executive Secretary of Racing. Ms. Cook, who had spoken to QS/PASS members on a number of previous occasions, explained that the consolidation is for the purpose of promoting racing in Pennsylvania. She distributed an organizational chart that shows the hierarchy. Reporting directly to the Deputy Secretary for Marketing and Economic Development Cheryl Cook will be a new Executive Secretary of Racing. A nationwide search will be conducted for candidates to fill this position.

The State Harness Racing and State Horse Racing Commissions will report to the Executive Secretary of Racing. Under the Executive Secretary of Racing, there will be three positions:

1.) A new Deputy Director of Operations yet to be named, who will be in charge of Licensing and Enforcement and Racing Affairs (Both positions are currently vacant.),

2.) Deputy Director of Harness Racing Anton J. Leppler, and

3.) Deputy Director of Horse Racing Michael Dillon, acting.

Ms. Cook stressed that there will be no combination of commissions due to the unique needs of each industry. She further explained that Act 71, which provided the slots funding, increased each commission workload without providing for a corresponding increase in budget. The consolidation will enable to department to combine administrative operations, thus reducing outlays.

Ms. Cook said that her number one priority at this time is to assure that the position of Executive Secretary of Racing is filled with the most qualified candidate. She noted that Pennsylvania will host a gaming meeting on January 30 to educate legislators and their staff on harness and horse racing.

Ms. Cook can be reached at 717-783-2059 or via email at checook@state.pa.us.

STATE FAIR FUND ADMINISTRATOR
Eric Cowden was absent.

QUAKER STATE STAKES
John introduced Sue Brickell. Sue said she has already begun advertising through Hoofbeats and Horseman and Fair World. 2007 was another good year for QS, with 14 fairs racing. Wattsburg has returned, thanks largely to the efforts of Cheryl Bender and the cooperation of the Erie County Fair board. There were no questions from the floor.

THE MEADOWS
John McMullen introduced John Marshall. There will be 208 days of live racing at the Meadows in 2008, with racing 4 days per week all year long. They are currently racing daylight hours. Construction continues on the new grandstand with the 2-Minute Club open to spectators. There will be stalls for 850 once construction is completed, with new holding barns. In 2009, John said, the Meadows will have a judges’ tower available if any fair is interested.

MSOA
Due to deteriorating weather conditions, Kim Hankins of MSOA was forced to leave prior to addressing the audience.

PENNSYLVANIA HARNESS HORSEMEN’S ASSOCIATION
John next called on Ron Battoni of the PHHA. Ron noted that dues have been raised to $40 per member. There will be a new carrier for life and dental, Health America. Sue Brickell said the increase is well worth it and thanked PHHA for providing sulky insurance. Ron reminded race secretaries that they should send him a copy of the accident report if there is an accident at a fair meet.

Ron said that, although there will be only 95 days of live racing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono, they will host both the Adios and the Adioo Volo on August 9 due to construction at the Meadows. In addition, Pocono will host “Super Sunday” on August 17 with purses totaling $2.2 million. This includes the Battle of Brandywine at $500,000 and the Colonial at $500,000, with a 20% bonus for PA-sired horses that finish first or second.

PENNSYLVANIA FAIR HARNESS HORSEMEN
President Terry Schoeffel said that the biggest concern is the lack of a starter since Bob Moran has taken a permanent position. Boots Dunn said that Bill Hatcher, formerly a starter for Colonial Downs, will be available. If the fairs would like to have contracts, they should FAX their request with the dates for racing to Boots at 814-425-7004.

PENNSYLVANIA HARNESS RACING COMMISSION
John acknowledged the Commission, recognizing member Roy Wilt and Anton Leppler, Deputy Director of Harness Racing, PAHRC.

Mr. Leppler said one of the concerns of the commission has been the reclamation of rainout money. Under Act 71, horses must compete for purses to be paid. In the event of a rainout, there is no live racing. The slot money will add $1 million to fair purses, but Anton said the fairs must be prepared to return the added slots money to the commission. The returned money will be added to the fair finals.

There will be 3 sources of the purse money: entry fees, nominating and sustaining fees from PASS, and the added slots revenue. Fairs can pay out the normal purse money, but should be prepared to return the slots money to the state in the event of rainout. The commission will make it easy to determine the source of the money and suggested that the fairs set up for an electronic transfer of funds from the commission by submitting a letter of interest to the commission.

He reminded the fairs of the committee of four for determining track safety: the race secretary, starter, judge and one horseman. Horsemen may pressure to race, but safety should be paramount.

PENNSYLVANIA SIRE STAKES
Fonda Civitello, PASS Administrator, said estimated purses for 2008 will be $9500 per class. She provided her phone numbers, 717-783-8726 (W) and 717-364-5388 (C). Fairs should submit their tear sheets as soon as possible.

BREEDERS FUND
Gerry Connors, Director, said that $18 million was won by PA horses in PASS in 2007. Breeders checks will be mailed in the spring and breeders and horses will be honored at the first annual Celebration of PA Harness Racing at Harrah’s on February 10. He provided his phone numbers, 717-787-5539 (W) and 717-364-4825 (C).

PA DEPT OF AGRICULTURE
Dr. Nan Hanshaw, daughter of Harry Hanshaw, addressed the group concerning intrastate health requirements for fair animals. The department is in the process of finalizing the regulations, and she asked for feedback. What is being considered is a 30-day Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), a yearly rabies vaccination and the Coggins test. These requirements were deemed burdensome on the horsemen, particularly the CVI, and all Standardbreds must maintain a current Coggins to qualify or race at pari-mutuel tracks.

USTA DIRECTORS
John introduced USTA director Boots Dunn. Due to deteriorating weather John Marshall had gone. In the interest of time, Boots had no remarks.

NEW BUSINESS
There was no new business.

OPEN DISCUSSION
1. Rainout Money – This was discussed under PAHRC business.

2. Starting Gate – Fairs should direct requests to Boots Dunn by Faxing 814-425-7004 for Bill Hatcher or contact Peter Fink. Fees for rainouts need to be qualified.

3. Saddle Pads and Numbers – The starter will handle and transport saddle pads.

4. Judge – PAHRC will pay for judge. Requests for starting judge should be addressed to Fonda Civitello at PAHRC.

5. One-Day Draw – On a motion by Ron Neeper, seconded by Trish, the member fairs voted to let this up to the discretion of the fairs, with an eye to reducing outlay if possible.

6. New Qualifying Times – Effective in 2009, the qualifying time will be reduced to 2:20 for 2 yr-old trotters and 2:15 for 2-yr-old pacers. As of 07-01-09, the qualifying time for 2-yr-old trotters will be further lowered to 2:15, the same standard as 2yr-old pacers.

7. Portable Stalls – Greene County raised a question about the availability of portable stalls for the fair. PAHRC will explore options. One possible source of funding is the “Outs.” These are uncashed winning tickets after April HORSEMEN of the following year. $3-4 million is returned to the PA Dept of Revenue and goes back to the general fund. This would require legislative action.

8. Administrative Expenses – John Flick raised a question regarding expenses. Ron Battoni responded that there are monies available from the PASS Fair Finals from the Meadows and Pocono. This money will be funneled back to PASS member tracks in the amount of $3300 per track. There is no application process, and checks should be mailed in April.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS FOR 2008
John McMullen called for nominations of officers. Boots Dunn motioned, and Ron Neeper seconded that the officers remain the same as 2008. Motion carried. The officers will be:

John D. McMullen – President
Jeff Firmstone – Vice-President
Susan Brickell – Secretary/Treasurer
Jeanne Urban – Recording Secretary.

ADJOURNMENT -Meeting was adjourned at 4:35 p.m.