Updated on 12/03/2014 1:57PM

Violette re-elected president of N.Y. Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association

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Rick Violette, the New York-based trainer, was narrowly re-elected for the third time as president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, according to a statement released on Tuesday night, defeating a challenge by the founder of a racing partnership group in a campaign that had national overtones.

Violette won by a vote count of 625 to 611, according to both Violette and his challenger, Terry Finley (the horsemen’s association said it would not release vote totals). He will serve his third consecutive three-year term as the unpaid president of the group. It was the first major challenge in recent memory for the president’s role at the state’s horsemen’s group.

Violette credited Finley with running a strong campaign and said the two had agreed after the vote totals were released that the NYTHA could improve several aspects of its operations.

“We’ll certainly do some self-examination,” Violette said. “We will take to heart some of the criticism. In the case of transparency and accountability, we can always improve on that.”

Finley said that the close vote total reflected concern over issues he raised during his campaign regarding worker’s compensation, NYTHA’s communication efforts, and the relationship of the horsemen’s group to state government. Finley also said he remains wary of NYTHA’s close ties to the National THA, which knits together state horsemen’s organizations that are largely based in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

“I had a great conversation with Rick [Tuesday night], and he assured me some of the issues did not fall on deaf ears,” Finley said.

The race also shaped up to be a referendum on the issue of the raceday use of the anti-bleeding medication furosemide, also known as Lasix, even if Finley said he did not have a “strict anti-Lasix agenda.” Violette is staunchly in favor of the raceday use of the drug, while Finley is associated with several organizations that have recently attempted to roll back rules allowing for its use.  

Recently, Finley wrote in a piece for the Blood-Horse magazine outlining his position on medication that “it is … important to have an open-minded rational leader with the right temperament – not one who antagonizes those with opposing views – as Violette does on a regular basis.”

Despite the close margin of defeat, Finley said a recount would be a “long drawn-out affair” in saying he would not contest the vote.

“It wouldn’t be productive for horsemen, owners, or breeders in New York,” Finley said. “I honestly believe that.”