Symposium targets key race topics

Dec 4, 2001 7:33 AM

For nearly three decades, discussions of the issues facing the pari-mutuel sports have attracted the movers and shakers of their respective industries to the annual Symposium On Racing hosted by the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program.

This year, the 28th renewal of the gathering in Tucson from Tuesday, Dec. 4 through Friday, Dec. 7, will be no different.

Subjects listed will be therapeutic medications in the racehorse, the perceptions and impacts such race-day medications have on the racing public; web journalism, current issues facing racing commissions; financial problems affecting racetracks and their bottom lines; track surfaces, technology and the introduction of new products.

The discussions have been put together by Douglas Reed, program coordinator and his associates, Wendy Davis and John Walzak.

Opening topic will be a “common sense discussion about the use and testing of therapeutic medications in the racehorse.” The panel, including Warwick Bayly, Cynthia Kollias-Baker, C. Wayne McIlwraith and Rick Sams will be moderated by Jerry B. Black, president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

On Wednesday, the subject will be expanded during two sessions. The first, with speakers ”” Dr. McIlwaith, Dr. Scot Waterman and a presentation of an independent study project on medication usage, conducted by the Race Track Industry Program students and faculty ”” will focus on a wide-range of issues including laboratory quality assurance to permitted race day medications. The second panel, moderated by Steven Crist, editor, publisher and CEO of the Daily Racing Form and including Trainer Tom Amoss, Owner-Breeder Tom Bachman, Michael Hoblock Jr., chairman of the N.Y. State Racing and Wagering Board, Trainer Richard Mandella, and Dr. Gary Norwood, track veterinarian, will evaluate the results given the day-to-day realities of conducting racing.

The Mark Kaufman Workshop, conducted by the Turf Publicists of America, will spotlight “Web Journalism,” and the various opportunities and challenges it presents for publicists and marketing executives.

Karl F. Schmitt, Jr., senior vice president, communications for Churchill Downs Inc., will moderate the panel that will include Mike Brunker, horse racing editor,; Joe Ferreira, executive producer; Bill Finley, horse racing columnist,, and Brian Horton, producer for the Associated Press’ multimedia Internet news product.

A concurrent panel, moderated by Lonny Powell, president and CEO, Association of Racing Commissioners International, will review the problems facing regulators such as uniform rules, licensing and account regulation. Joining Powell will be Frank Lamb, executive director, North American Pari-Mutuel Regulators Association; Stanley Sadinsky, chairman, Ontario Racing Commission, and Robin Williams, chair, National Racing Compact.

Thursday, Marc Falcone, vice president of Bear Stearns Equity Research Team, will join with Dr. Margaret Ray, visiting research scientist, at the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, to analyze the marketplace. There also will be discussions of Backstretch Issues, especially important in light of new California legislation going into effect in 2002 regarding union membership by backstretch personnel; “Technology on Parade,” reviewing the uses of technology that change the racing landscape, and the strategies used by game designers in hopes of reaching their target audiences.

The final day will be taken up with discussions of changes taking place in Great Britain and Ireland; the problems incurred when court decisions impact private organizational rules, and the programs implemented during 2001 by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

A special feature will take place Wednesday when the speaker will be Mike Veeck, president of Goldklang Group. Veeck is the son of  Bill Veeck, the legendary baseball entrepreneur who spent a brief period of his career operating Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts and then writing a book of his experiences entitled, “Thirty Tons A Day.”

Mike Veeck currently is part owner of six minor league baseball teams that make history by setting attendance records. He will speak on “The Business of Having Fun.”