06/14/2001 11:00PM

NTRA to release business plan


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which was criticized last year by some dissatisfied members for losing sight of its priorities, plans to release a draft of a revised business plan to the public.

The revised business plan was reviewed on Friday by the 15-member NTRA board at a meeting at Arlington Park outside of Chicago. An NTRA official said the plan likely will be released following the July 4 holidays.

"The board did not have significant revisions, but they did believe it should be distributed to individual stakeholders for industry feedback," said Chip Tuttle, a spokesman for the NTRA. "It's always been the intention of the NTRA to give as many stakeholders a shot at shaping it."

The NTRA was the target of complaints from two dozen racetracks last year for overreaching its priorities, and many of the racetracks threatened to leave the organization if it did not revisit its goals. The revised business plan is meant in part to address those concerns.

The new business plan will also replace a document that could be characterized as a relic, considering the number of changes the NTRA and Thoroughbred racing has undergone since the association was inaugurated in April, 1997.

The initial business plan, for example, estimated that the NTRA would receive $10 million in "interactive fees" from account wagering in 2001. Those fees are not expected to top $250,000 this year, as the growth of account wagering in the U.S. has been stalled by legislative and regulatory hurdles.

The business plan also did not account for the NTRA's merger with Breeders' Cup Ltd., which was completed this year. As a result, the NTRA's combined budget in 2001, $52 million, includes revenues and expenses from a far greater number of sources than those identified at the association's inception.

Tuttle said the revised business plan identifies the NTRA's "core marketing programs" and its "legislative and political capabilities" as priorities. The new plan also says the NTRA should "help the industry realize the economic potential of account wagering," Tuttle said.

Also at the meeting, the NTRA board reviewed a new national advertising campaign that will feature ESPN personality Kenny Mayne. The campaign, to air during late summer and fall, is designed to build awareness in racing up to the Breeders' Cup on October 27.