12/21/2004 1:00AM

NTRA to open D.C. office


LEXINGTON, Ky. -The National Thoroughbred Racing Association will establish an office in Washington, D.C., in 2005 that will be headed by the organization's current president, Greg Avioli.

Avioli will give up the title of president and assume the title of executive vice president of legislative and corporate planning. He has spearheaded nearly all of the NTRA's legislative efforts over the past five years. Avioli currently works out of the NTRA's Lexington office.

The NTRA has no current plans to fill the position of president, according to D. G. Van Clief Jr., the NTRA commissioner.

The NTRA has taken an increasingly aggressive role in lobbying politicians on the racing industry's behalf. The association has also created a political action committee and helped form the Congressional Horse Caucus.

The NTRA and its partner, Breeders' Cup Ltd., also announced on Tuesday a number of other staff changes effective Jan. 1.

* Damon Thayer, Breeders' Cup's vice president of event marketing, will assume the title of vice president of Breeders' Cup event management. Thayer is also a state legislator in Kentucky.

* Peggy Hendershot, the NTRA vice president of legislative and industry affairs, has been named vice president of legislative and corporate planning. She will continue to oversee fundraising efforts for the NTRA's political action committee.

* Terry Meyocks, the special assistant to the commissioner and the former president of the New York Racing Association, has been named the vice president of NTRA racing and industry memberships.

The NTRA recently announced that it is exploring ways to revamp the dues systems currently in place for NTRA member tracks and horsemen's groups.