Since the Fund’s inception in 1996, it has been managed by the Virginia Thoroughbred Association under the auspices of the Virginia Racing Commission. For the past ten years, the contract has been renewed annually under the direction of former Executive Director Glenn Petty who was abruptly terminated without cause in early June. The sudden and controversial managerial change and the secret proceedings triggered the resignation of three board members.
Two other employees directly involved in the management and promotion of the Fund, Heather Stanley and Pat Faramarzi are also no longer employed by the VTA. Stanley retired in August of 2013 and Faramarzi’s position was terminated as part of the management restructure.
Petty, now the president of Equisport Solutions, contacted the Virginia Racing Commission prior to their September meeting and requested an agenda item to receive permission to submit a competitive bid. Citing the restrictions of the existing legislative language that made a typical competitive bid difficult to execute, Chairman Stuart Siegel suggested that interested parties simply submit a proposal for the VRC’s consideration.
The current contract runs one year expiring December 31, 2013 and pays the holder $190,000 annually for administration and promotion. The fee is 15.8% of the approximate $1.2 million Thoroughbred portion of the Virginia Breeders Fund.
According to Easter Associates, the trade association management company hired to replace Petty and the other staff members, the $190,000 fee represented 56% of the association’s 2012 revenue and covered the entirety of the Easter Associates management fee of $160,000 which includes the current Executive Directors’ salary. The combined compensation of the previous staff was $163,995.84 according to Easter Associates’ proposal submitted to the VTA board last June.
The VRC will announce its decision at their December meeting.
In a related item, in a letter dated October 3rd, Debbie Easter informed Petty that the VTA Board of Directors had tabled his 2013 membership application at the organization’s September meeting held just days after the September VRC meeting.
According to Easter’s letter, the directors agreed to table the measure to avoid a situation where “the VTA may be harmed if it admits you to its membership and thereby provides you with information regarding the VTA that you may use in competing with the VTA.”
Petty had submitted his VTA membership application and dues in early August some 40 days after his ousting at the secret meeting in June.
“I wanted to be sure they knew I intended to submit a competing proposal for the Breeders Fund before they considered my membership. I saw no reason to hide my intentions.” Petty said. “I can’t imagine what information they may provide their membership that I could use to my competitive advantage, but I respect their decision and understand their concerns regarding fiduciary responsibility.”