03/30/2017 10:35AM

Churchill Downs rejoins NTRA after seven-year break

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Churchill Downs Inc., one of the most influential racing companies in the U.S., has rejoined the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, seven years after dropping out of the organization.

As a result of the decision to rejoin, Churchill’s chief operating officer, Bill Mudd, has been appointed to the NTRA’s board of directors, the NTRA said.

Churchill dropped out of the NTRA in 2010, at a time when many tracks were reconsidering their membership in the organization in the face of dramatic declines in betting on U.S. races. At the time, the company paid $375,000 in annual membership dues.

Despite not being a formal member of the NTRA for seven years, Churchill Downs, which operates three racetracks and the market-leading account-wagering company TwinSpires.com, has reliably sought accreditation for its racetracks from the NTRA’s Safety and Integrity Alliance since dropping out, and TwinSpires.com has been a major participating member of the NTRA’s popular National Handicapping Championship Tour.

Churchill is rejoining the NTRA at a time when the association is on the verge of scoring a major victory in a two-year effort to lobby for tax changes that would be highly favorable to horseplayers. The tax changes are likely to go into effect later this year.

Two months ago, Betfair US, which owns and operates Television Games Network, a major competitor to TwinSpires.com, rejoined the NTRA, gaining a seat on the NTRA’s board for chief executive Kip Levin.