06/21/2006 12:00AM

Director challenges HBPA

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Churchill Downs-based trainer Bob DeSensi, a director with the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, is leading a petition drive to call for a membership vote on how the organization's president should be determined.

DeSensi said Wednesday he had gathered 92 signatures, enough support to force a vote on whether the president of the Kentucky horsemen's association should continue to be elected by all members instead of by the group's directors, who recently voted 4-3 to authorize themselves to determine the group's president.

"I think our membership has the right to pick the leadership," DeSensi said.

Marty Maline, the executive director of the Kentucky horsemen's group, said the bylaw change that gave directors the power to determine its president also dropped a requirement that a presidential candidate have served at least one term on the board. This creates more potential candidates, he said.

Directors would still need to be elected by a vote of its general membership, Maline said.

Trainer Dale Romans, a board member who voted to allow the board to determine the president, said the change is not a power play.

"This opens it up," he said. "Instead of a guy becoming president on name recognition, you can get the one that can best do the job."