09/27/2004 12:00AM

NTRA readies for search


The search for a new commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association could begin in earnest as early Dec. 4, the association announced Monday at its annual meeting at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

D.G. Van Clief Jr., president of Breeders' Cup Ltd., has been serving as the NTRA's acting commissioner since the Sept 1. resignation of Tim Smith from the post. Van Clief is a candidate for the permanent title.

Van Clief said the hope is to have all the job criteria agreed upon by the board at its scheduled Dec. 4 meeting, or at the latest by the first quarter of 2005, and then hire a national headhunter to find suitable candidates.

The NTRA's annual meeting and marketing summit was to continue through Tuesday. On Monday morning, attendees were updated on legislative news affecting the industry, as well as research data compiled by ESPN Sports poll that showed that horse racing is the only sport with a growing fan base in each of the last five years, and that a survey by SDS Research identified 48 million people who said they are interested in going to the track.