Updated on 09/17/2011 7:05PM

Insurance not on agenda


The University of Arizona's begins Wednesday in Tucson with a broad mix of topics scheduled for the three-day event, but some of the most controversial issues in the racing industry today are not on the agenda.

The list of topics to be discussed includes marketing the sport, tracking players, and dealing with sponsorship and advertising. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association will close the symposium on Friday with a presentation that has now become standard since the NTRA was formed in 1997.

The symposium, now in its 31st year, is conducted by the university's Race Track Industry Program. The conference annually attracts more than 1,000 industry officials, although a growing number of attendees come from the gambling industry, whose officials are eager to strike relationships with racetracks seeking slot machines.

Discussion of slot-machine gambling at racetracks was scheduled for Tuesday, during a one-day conference called the Racing and Gaming Summit, also at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, the site of the symposium. Tom Meeker, the president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc., was scheduled to be the conference's keynote speaker.

Several topics that would seem ripe for the gathering do not appear on the symposium's agenda. The issue of who should pay for jockey insurance, for example, is not a panel topic; controversy over the issue arose only in November, when two jockey walkouts occurred at Churchill Downs and Hoosier Park. The symposium schedule is typically firmed up in the summer.

On Wednesday, the schedule will include two panel discussions on betting exchanges, the increasingly popular Internet betting sites that have grown exponentially over the past several years in Europe. Betting exchanges are illegal in the United States, but North American racing officials fear losing revenue to the sites because many already offer bets on American racing.

On Thursday, the topic of public-auction reform is scheduled for discussion. Earlier this year, Satish Sanan, the owner of Padua Stables, called for sellers, consignors, and auction houses to reform their policies on a wide variety of issues, and a task force is exploring ideas on how to make horse auctions more transparent for buyers.

Other topics include how to make horse racing broadcasts more compelling; the emerging simulcast markets in South America; and a Friday morning presentation by Jim McAlpine, the chief executive officer of Magna Entertainment, on his views on the future of racing.