A Message from the Virginia Equine Alliance

Dear Virginia Horsemen:

As reported in our letter of October 29th, the VTA, VHBPA, the VHHA, and the Virginia Gold Cup have formed a new organization, the Virginia Equine Alliance, Inc. (VEA). The Alliance includes all Virginia horsemen and its goal is to grow Virginia’s racing industry by creating a program that will benefit Virginia horsemen and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The Alliance has a new vision for racing in the Commonwealth where racing is organized by a non-profit corporation (i.e.VEA) with associated charities being given the opportunity to raise funds through their participation on race days. All net revenue of the VEA will be directed back into the industry.

The VEA’s interim Board – consisting of David Ross (VHBPA), Dr. William Allison (Gold Cup), Wayne Chatfield-Taylor (VTA) and Dr. R.C. Dunavant (VHHA) – have made two interim appointments to the VEA so the important work of re-building Virginia racing can begin in earnest.

Debbie Easter-current Executive Director of the VTA-has been named the Interim President of the VEA. We all know Debbie and her work for the VTA and the Board appreciates her willingness to guide the VEA at its inception.

The VEA Board is pleased to enlist the help of John (Jeb) Hannum as the Interim Executive Director. Jeb comes to the VEA with a unique blend of racing experience, and in the interim he has volunteered his time to the new Alliance.

Jeb and his family moved to Fauquier County earlier this year after serving as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association (PHBA). In this role, Jeb oversaw the administration and development of the PA Breeding Program where he worked closely with the Pennsylvania Horsemen, track operators and the Commission to run this nationally respected program.

Prior to joining the PHBA, Jeb was appointed to the Pennsylvania Racing Commission in 2008 where he served a three year term as a Commissioner. Jeb is also a former amateur steeplechase jockey and his professional experience will no doubt be instrumental as the Alliance begins to chart a new path for racing in the Commonwealth.

Moving forward, the VEA will be addressing a number of important initiatives as we approach the new year. Specifically, the Alliance will be focused on the following areas over the next few weeks and months:

Legislative Action

The VEA will be working with the Commission, General Assembly and the Governor’s office to update the Racing statute to create more racing opportunities and to establish a development fund to grow our sport. We plan to have our legislative agenda completed by the beginning of December and we hope we can call on you to help educate our elected officials.

2015 Racing

The VEA would like to create as many racing opportunities as possible for 2015 by exploring the feasibility of new venues for flat and harness races. The VEA plans to publish a limited race day schedule in early 2015. Of note, representatives from the horsemen and breeders have visited numerous sites to explore the possibility of race meets in the future.

Regional Meetings

The VEA will host a number of regional meetings with horsemen to update you on our plans and importantly to garner your questions and feedback. A schedule of the meetings and dates will be announced by the end of November.

Communications

The VEA will keep Virginia’s horsemen informed about these important changes. We ask all horsemen to send this email to your colleagues and if they would like to receive future notices, please add their email address to our contact list. To add an email address click here.

As we have stated many times, the Alliance’s plan will take time and involve the effort of many to develop. Only by working together can we grow the sport. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us. We are counting on all of you to contribute as we enter the new year and a new era for racing in Virginia.

Sincerely,

Dr. William Allison (Gold Cup)

Wayne Chatfield-Taylor (VTA)

Dr. R.C. Dunavant (VHHA)

David Ross (VHBPA)