10/04/2001 12:00AM

NTRA seeking longer-term deals


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association is going into its second annual membership meeting next week with plans to sign tracks to long-term membership agreements, NTRA officials said Wednesday.

The annual membership meeting, which will be held Oct. 10-11 in Lexington, Ky., following an NTRA board meeting a day earlier at Keeneland Racecourse.

At this time last year, the NTRA was struggling with a number of tracks that were threatening to resign. About a dozen racetracks eventually followed through on their threats.

This year, the NTRA is hoping to put its membership troubles to bed. Already, several tracks that dropped out at the beginning of this year have rejoined, including Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands.

For the most part, NTRA tracks have signed one-year membership agreements, and at the end of this year, the NTRA plans to ask tracks to renew their membership for two years or more, said Eric Wing, an NTRA spokesman.

More pressing may be the concerns that racetracks will struggle over the next year because of the economic downturn. "I don't think we can expect to ask tracks for more money when only a handful are doing any good right now," an NTRA official said Wednesday.