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OVERVIEW OF THE OTBO FROM 2020-2023

Mike Annechino

OVERVIEW OF THE OTBO FROM 2020-2023

Members and Prospective members:

The OTBO is about to conduct an election for our 12 Board of Directors Seats. The full nomination criteria, entry forms, and timelines can be found on our website.

We thought this would be a good time to review the recent history of the OTBO as well as a look at some new programs and ideas that we are considering for the future so that all of our members and any prospective candidates will have an idea of what is happening and what to expect should they become a board member.

An important note is that we represent both Breeders AND Owners. Often the two are the same and neither can operate without the other, but we try and develop programs to assist both groups equally.

In 2020 the OTBO was in some difficulties. The organization was down to app. 25 paying members; the bank account was negative; tax filings were delinquent; and the only programs we had in place were the annual awards banquet at Darby Dan that was sparsely attended because it was in a difficult location for many people to get to especially during the height of breeding season; the annual Mixed Sale (the 2019 sale had 40 horses and lost money); the Annual Stallion Season Auction (that had 31 horses in 2019 and made very little money); and publication of the annual brochure. There were no other programs in place for either Breeders or Owners that the OTBO directly funded or managed.

Since October of 2020, the OTBO has rebounded! With the help of two dedicated Boards of Directors, we have embarked on many different programs as well as rebuilt our organization in order to provide all participants in Ohio racing with more opportunities to be successful.

From an internal standpoint, we eliminated all unnecessary expenses; became current on our taxes; hired an independent accounting firm; and restructured our finances to the benefit of the organization. Our paid membership has increased to over 200+ during this period. We have added systems so that the response time to any questions or inquiries we get is 24 hours or less. We currently receive funding from the OSRC to help with our annual brochures and various other promotions. We formerly received funding from the OHHBPA but have not received any in 2023 although we hope to receive some in the future. As of this writing, we obtain the rest of our funds through membership fees and direct revenue generating programs.

Since 2020 we have also introduced or expanded on the following programs all designed to help, recognize, or enhance the ability of Ohio Breeders and Owners:

  1. Ohio has three racetracks all of which have excellent, cooperative management teams. This has resulted in a direct partnership with the OTBO at each respective Best of Ohio Day.
  2. At Belterra, we jointly host the annual awards banquet and trophy presentation live on track. Attendance has increased each year and Belterra has created a wonderful environment where horse people can be recognized for their accomplishments while meeting many people and exchanging ideas. We also have added several additional annual award categories to recognize the trainer of the year as well as the claiming horse of the year!
  3. At Thistledown, we host a wonderful, interactive handicapping show; conduct pre and post race interviews with the successful connections; and again provide an atmosphere for people in our industry from all over the state to get together.
  4. At Mahoning, we host a “Salute to the Breeders”. For the first time, trophies are given out to all the winning Breeders of all the Best of Ohio races. The Breeders of every horse entered in the Best of Ohio program are now shown on the TV monitors before the races. We also run videos on the TV screens highlighting as many of our Ohio farms as possible. There is even a handicapping show where breeding is emphasized.
  5. In 2022, the OTBO created a Grad Sale Stake for horses that go through our annual mixed sale. This has resulted in additional entries for the sale and a wonderful opportunity for our young Ohio bred horses to run at a very nice purse in early March and prep for the stakes to come. To date, the OTBO has directly contributed app. $40,000 to the purses of the two races run so far! Interestingly, we have had a gelding and a filly win our first two races!
  6. In 2022 we put on several seminars geared towards various aspects of breeding. These were well supported and the speakers were great. We plan on revisiting this idea in 2024 and hope to put in a few more.
  7. In 2023 we held our first “Youth Day” at Thistledown. Over 75 youths and adults participated in a truly outstanding day on the backside and the frontside. The spirit of cooperation from all of the horse people at Thistledown was tremendous. We plan on expanding this to all 3 tracks in 2024.
  8. We redesigned our web site to make it much more user friendly. At times during the year, we receive 2000+ unique visits to our site. We have a lot of room to improve content and hope to expand this in 2024 and beyond.
  9. Our Annual Stallion Season Auction has become the top State Run Auction of its kind in the US. Thanks to the tremendous cooperation of stallion farms in Ohio, Kentucky, New York, Indiana, and various other states, we offer breeders the opportunity to obtain stallion seasons to truly quality horses at affordable prices. This is an excellent way for Ohio horse people to improve our racing stock while proving the needed funds for the OTBO to continue our operations.
  10. The OTBO has obtained a Lifetime Breeding right to Dominus, the stallion of the year in Ohio in 2022. We will be offering this season in our annual stallion season auction beginning in 2023.
  11. Our annual Mixed Sale enjoyed outstanding success in recent years. Beginning with the 2020 sale, the last 3 years have seen growth in number of horses and revenues. The number of horses available to us in 2023 was smaller than in previous years – we are somewhat a victim of our own success in that 12 OH breds were entered in the recent Keeneland Sale – but we were able to pivot and relocate the sale to Mahoning Race Course. What we lost in numbers we have made up in quality! The OTBO is pleased to be able to offer breeders and owner/buyers in Ohio a convenient marketplace to obtain their new champions as well as some tremendous brood mares as well. Thank you to all consignors and buyers who participate. New in 2023 – we are offering online bidding for those who cannot make it to Mahoning that day.
  12. In conjunction with the OSRC, we continue to publish the annual Ohio racing handbook that contains our stakes schedule, pertinent racing and track information, the rules and regulations that apply to our horses, recognition of the annual award winners, and various other items that are useful to horse people in Ohio and beyond year-round.
  13. We have the privilege of attending the quarterly meetings of the Ohio Advisory Board. In this way we are able to share breeders and owners concerns; contribute to additions and changes to our racing schedules; and interact with the other groups involved in Ohio racing to work together towards enhancing our overall program.
  14. Working with the OSRC, we have established open communication avenues to answer questions on many topics involving Ohio racing and breeding. Our knowledgeable board members are accessible at the tracks, on their respective farms, and via phone and internet to answer any questions members – and non-members – might have.
  15. We have established relationships with many leading publications and are placing more Ohio racing related press releases than ever before. We also are writing more stories on our website than ever before and will continue to add and improve content in all areas as we move forward.

As we move into 2024 and beyond, we are considering the following new programs or ideas:

  1. Developing a program to assist first time breeders or breeders who have not bred in recent years.
  2. Creating a “Racing Partnership” program to attract new owners to our sport.
  3. Doing more social outreach at all three of our racetracks to aid the many behind the scenes workers who keep our industry going. We plan on doing a coat drive in 2023 at Mahoning for example.
  4. Reintroducing our seminar programs.
  5. Working with all three tracks to establish an “Ohio Racing History” display for their patrons to enjoy.
  6. In conjunction with the OSU Veterinary Program and Dr. Scott Shell, we are working on holding a direct seminar at OSU to try and attract more students to the equine program and racetracks. We also hope to expand this to include some sort of internship opportunity that the OTBO can help support.

These are just a few examples of ideas we are considering. We are looking forward to working with all parties involved in Ohio racing to help support our people and our industry as we move forward.

Does the OTBO have room to improve? Absolutely. Are we dedicated and determined to do so. Absolutely again. We welcome any and all creative ideas or suggestions from anyone and everyone. We know we do not have all of the good ideas and encourage everyone to share their thoughts with us. Our email address is ohiobreeders@gmail.com and our office number is 330 356 8350.

The new board that is elected this year will have its work cut out for it as our industry faces some of its biggest challenges ever but there is no cause worth fighting for more! Ohio breeding and racing represents the best bang for the buck in the business! Our dedicated horse people put their lives into their work. All of us at the OTBO appreciate that, participate in it ourselves, and are dedicated to doing all we can to help anyone involved in Ohio racing on every level.

Thank you.

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