08/15/2001 12:00AM

New HBPA head looks offshore


John Roark, the newly elected president of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said on Wednesday that a priority for the horsemen's association under his tenure would be seeking a cut of revenues from simulcasting sites - such as offshore race books and casinos - that are not currently contributing to purses.

"One of the biggest priorities for me is going to be getting a handle on all the simulcasting that is going on, here in this country, in the Caribbean, and around the world," Roark said. "The horsemen are not participating in some of the things that are going on out there."

Roark, 60, was elected to a two-year term earlier this week at the National HBPA's convention in Boston, beating out incumbent Rick Hiles by a 49-39 vote. Two years ago, Roark, who has a private law practice in Temple, Texas, lost to Hiles, a Kentucky horse owner, by six votes.

Roark also said that he would reach out to other unaffiliated horsemen's groups in the country, such as the mid-Atlantic-based Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Thoroughbred Owners of California, in a series of regional meetings. "We're going to try to create a loose coalition between all the horsemen," he said. "The tracks are doing this, so we need to do this."

The National HBPA currently represents 31 affiliates in the United States and Canada.