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NTRA Safety And Integrity Alliance Releases Best Practices For Spectator-Free Racing

May 7, 2020

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Safety and Integrity Alliance today released a document outlining best practices for North American racetracks determined to prioritize the health and safety of all participants and employees, when conducting live racing in a spectator-free environment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The comprehensive document will assist racetracks that wish to resume live racing by establishing the safest public health environment possible, while also enabling gainful employment and economic activity at a time of uncertainty for so many. These best practices are based upon the most current information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), input from racetracks across the U.S. that are already conducting live racing and/or training, and feedback from a newly established Public Health Advisory Council consisting of experts in public health, epidemiology and horseracing who have agreed to contribute their expertise to racetrack re-opening efforts.

In addition to public health protocols established by the CDC, the document includes detailed racetrack-specific operational guidelines. These include the establishment of a COVID-19 Safety Team to manage the myriad issues and situations that may arise when conducting live racing, cleaning and sanitation protocols, frontside operations involving essential employees only, racing and stable area operations that facilitate maximum physical distancing, health and safety requirements specific to jockeys, as well as other public health and safety recommendations.

Initial members of the Public Health Advisory Council include:
· Dr. Rick Greenberg, Infectious Disease Specialist, University of Kentucky
· Dr. Hiram Polk, Former Public Health Commissioner, Kentucky Dept. for Public Health
· Dr. Kelly Ryan, Family and Sports Medicine Specialist, MedStar Health
· Dr. Barry Schumer, Track Physician, Keeneland

“The current economic situation facing many in the horse racing industry make it critical that we work with relevant local authorities to help tracks across the country return to racing as soon as is safely possible,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “To this end, the NTRA has engaged a variety of stakeholders and consulted with multiple public health experts to produce comprehensive guidelines that will serve as a blueprint for tracks seeking to operate safely and responsibly in the current public health environment. We urge racetracks to tailor these protocols to fit their unique conditions by working closely with their state and local health department officials, as so much about the safest response to this pandemic is local in nature.”

Version 1.0 of the full document outlining all of the best practices can be found here: https://mk0ntrauj6jy9vera.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/NTRA_Covid_19_Plan_5.6.20-V6-FINAL.pdf

Updates to these best practices will be made on an ongoing basis as necessary.

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ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN APPLICATION PROCESS RESUMES FOR BREEDING FARMS

ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN APPLICATION PROCESS RESUMES FOR BREEDING FARMS
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has reopened the application process for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)-COVID-19 related assistance program after a short delay. Farms with fewer than 500 employees whose primary activity is breeding horses may now apply for these loans offered to businesses that have suffered economic hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is welcome news and a terrific opportunity for horse farms that are currently facing a number of daunting challenges,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “The NTRA encourages quick action by those interested, as the loans are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Click here to access the EIDL application.
The NTRA lobbied the SBA for several weeks after farms were excluded from earlier federal emergency aid packages. On April 24, President Trump signed into law another package providing relief to small businesses, including farms and ranches.
NTRA partner Dean Dorton, one of the nation’s leading experts on equine tax matters, posted an update to the COVID-19 microsite on NTRA.com that outlines the new provisions that will positively impact horse breeding farms. That PowerPoint can be found here.
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New SBA Guidance Makes Tracks Eligible for Paycheck Protection Program; Farms Can Now Apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans

President Trump signed into law today (4-24-20) an emergency aid package providing additional relief to small businesses and health care facilities, and the Small Business Administration released updated guidance that will assist the horse industry.

 

The new law provides $310 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses, which was oversubscribed. The additional appropriation will allow financial institutions to make additional forgivable loans to eligible small businesses in order to keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks.

 

The new law also includes $60 billion in loans and grants for a separate Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and makes farms and ranches eligible for the loans. Farms with 500 or fewer employees whose primary activity is breeding horses are now eligible to apply.

 

Separately, the Treasury and SBA released updated interim final rules that contain a key clarification that will provide essential relief to racetracks and other businesses who rely on gambling income and otherwise qualify for an SBA loan. Under the new rules, businesses that receive legal gambling income are eligible to apply for this loan forgiveness program.

 

The NTRA has been lobbying the SBA for this updated guidance for several weeks.

 

“We thank the SBA and our allies on the Hill for providing clarification that will allow broader participation in the PPP and EIDL loan programs by racetracks, farms and others in our industry who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop.

 

NTRA partner Dean Dorton, one of the nation’s leading experts on equine tax matters, has posted an update on its Covid-19 microsite at NTRA.com that outlines all of these new provisions that will positively impact horse racing and breeding. That PowerPoint can be found here.

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Summary of Benefits to Horse Owners Under the New Federal Covid-19 Legislation

 

 

All businesses are feeling economic hardship right now, and horse owners are no exception. Congress and the Trump Administration have provided several mechanisms to keep businesses afloat and provide some financial relief. Every business and every financial situation is unique, however, so it is critical that you have a conversation with your tax or financial advisor to ensure that you are accessing all the benefits to which you are entitled under the new law.

 

1.     Tax Benefits. Owners may be entitled to some new tax benefits that allow them to file amended returns for prior years and get cash in the form of tax refunds.

 

a. Net operating losses can now be carried back for up to 5 years. This applies to C corporations and individuals who generate net business losses. The IRS is currently accepting faxed refund requests in order to expedite these cash refunds.

b. The excess business loss limitation for individuals, trusts and estates is now deferred until 2021. Those who were subject to this limitation in 2018 and 2019 may file amended tax returns to receive cash refunds.

c. The prior year AMT credits in C corporations, originally refundable through 2021, are now fully refundable in 2018 or 2019. The IRS is currently accepting faxed refund requests in order to expedite these cash refunds.

 

2.     Emergency Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are available to owners regardless of whether they have employees to assist in funding working capital needs (e.g., payment of training and board bills). In some instances, the borrower may be entitled to a $10,000 forgivable loan advance. The initial loan disbursements (in addition to the $10K advance) are available based on two months of working capital, with a maximum of $15,000 per applicant. The first loan payment back to SBA on EIDLs is deferred for one year.

 

a. The EIDL program does not require a business to have employees who receive W-2 wages but the SBA is currently distributing the $10k EIDL advances that are not required to be repaid to only those businesses with employees or self-employed individuals. They are calculating these as $1k per employee up to $10k maximum per applicant.

b. Through the EIDL program, the SBA is also supposed to be quickly distributing two months of working capital up to $15k per application. So, racing stables, trainers, and others without employees should still apply thru the EIDL program, although these loans will have to be repaid. Loan applications for the EIDL loan program will be available on the SBA’s website once the SBA has posted it.

 

3.     The Main Street Lending Program will enhance support for small and mid-sized businesses that were in good financial standing before the crisis by offering 4-year loans to companies employing up to 10,000 workers or with revenues of less than $2.5 billion. Principal and interest payments will be deferred for one year. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury recognize that businesses vary widely in their financing needs and are still working on the specific guidelines for this program, which are expected to be finalized by May 1st.

 

4.     The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been funded with an additional $310B in the latest Congressional act passed on April 24, 2020, $60B of which is designated for smaller banks and credit unions. Those loan terms include two-year loans at 1% interest, deferral of payments for six months, interest accrued from the date the loan is received and no prepayment penalty. Also, the PPP loan may be forgivable if spent on qualifying expenditures (payroll, rent or mortgage interest and utilities). The exact forgiveness calculation for the PPP loan is pending additional guidance from Treasury.

 

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are available to owners but only under specific circumstances:

 

a. Owners are generally required to have employees who receive W-2 wages to take advantage of the PPP.

b. Owners in Partnerships with both employees who receive W-2 wages and self-employment income of partners should include both the W-2 wages and the partners’ self-employment income when calculating the partnership’s PPP loan. The partnership only should file the application.

c. Self-employed sole proprietorships and pass-through single-member entities (e.g. LLCs) may qualify for a PPP loan if they have 2019 Schedule C or Schedule F net profit (2019 Net Profit). If 2019 Net Profit is less than zero, then that entity is not eligible for a PPP loan. PPP loan forgiveness for sole proprietors is limited to 8/52nds of 2019 Net Profit.

d. Employers who have received a PPP loan, but whose loan is not yet forgiven, may defer deposit and payment of the employer’s share of Social Security taxes beginning on March 27, 2020 until the loan is forgiven. These taxes will continue to be deferred under the normal payment terms for the PPP program. Once the employer’s PPP loan is forgiven, this deferral is no longer available.

 

5.     Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit. The CARES Act created payroll tax credits for employers who retain W-2 employees if the business is fully or partially suspended due to COVID-19 orders from a government agency or if there is a 50% decrease in gross receipts when compared to the prior calendar quarter. This is essentially a refundable payroll tax credit of up to 50 percent of the “qualified wages” paid by an employer to an employee from March 13 through December 31, 2020. Qualified wages include salaries and employer-provided health benefits and cannot exceed $10,000 per employee. This credit for an employee who earns at least $10,000 annually is capped at $5,000. This credit is only available to employers that do not receive a PPP loan and additional restrictions apply for those with more than 100 employees. An advance of this credit may be requested via the IRS Form 7200; otherwise, this may be claimed on the quarterly payroll tax return.

 

As a reminder, owners need to consult their tax and financial advisors for their specific situations.

 

The NTRA acknowledges the contributions of Jen Shah, CPA, and Director of Tax Services for the Lexington, KY accounting firm, Dean Dorton, and Lauren Bazel, Vice President and tax policy advisor for the Washington, DC lobbying firm, The Alpine Group, in the preparation of this tax advisory release.

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Racetracks, Horse Ownership Entities Now Eligible For Paycheck Protection Loan Program

by | 04.24.2020 | 1:24pm

President Trump signed into law today an emergency aid package providing additional relief to small businesses and health care facilities, and the Small Business Administration released updated guidance that will assist the horse industry.

The new law provides $310 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses, which was oversubscribed. The additional appropriation will allow financial institutions to make additional forgivable loans to eligible small businesses in order to keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks.

The new law also includes $60 billion in loans and grants for a separate Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and makes farms and ranches eligible for the loans. Farms with 500 or fewer employees whose primary activity is breeding horses are now eligible to apply.

Separately, the Treasury and SBA released updated interim final rules that contain a key clarification that will provide essential relief to racetracks and other businesses who rely on gambling income and otherwise qualify for an SBA loan. Under the new rules, businesses that receive legal gambling income are eligible to apply for this loan forgiveness program.The NTRA has been lobbying the SBA for this updated guidance for several weeks.

“We thank the SBA and our allies on the Hill for providing clarification that will allow broader participation in the PPP and EIDL loan programs by racetracks, farms and others in our industry who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop.

NTRA partner Dean Dorton, one of the nation’s leading experts on equine tax matters, has posted an update on its Covid-19 microsite at NTRA.com that outlines all of these new provisions that will positively impact horse racing and breeding. That PowerPoint can be found here.

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Homeland Security to Issue 35,000 Additional H-2B Visas

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 5, 2020) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) earlier today communicated to Congressional offices its intent to release 35,000 additional H-2B visas for the summer season of Fiscal Year 2020. This nonimmigrant visa program is used by many industries that need temporary non-agricultural help when domestic workers are unavailable. For the horse racing industry, racehorse trainers rely heavily on the H-2B program to fill various backside positions.

While DHS has not yet released a final rule outlining specific details, the agency has provided the following:

  •  Federal regulators will release the supplementals in two phases. The first batch of 20,000 will be available for employers requiring start dates  beginning April 1, and 15,000 to those having start dates beginning May 15.
  •  DHS will “generally limit” issuance of supplemental H-2B visas to returning workers “who are known to follow immigration law in good faith.”
  •  And in a first-time effort to align visa policy with the Administration’s border security goals, DHS will award 10,000 supplemental visas to citizens of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, countries DHS has designated as “key Central American partners” on border security policy.

“We are pleased that the Administration and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf decided to allocate an additional 35,000 H-2B visas for the remainder of fiscal year 2020,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “Hopefully, this will provide relief to horse trainers who continue to struggle to hire foreign workers for backstretch positions that U.S. citizens are not filling. While this number of supplemental visas is 5,000 greater than in Fiscal Year 2019, it is likely to fall short of demand.”

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Three-Year Racehorse Depreciation Extension Passed by Both Houses of Congress

LEXINGTON, Ky. (December 19, 2019) – A key provision that extends three-year tax depreciation for all racehorses through 2020 passed the Senate by a vote of 71-23 earlier today. The racehorse provision was passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday by a vote of 297-120 as part of a larger tax package.
“We appreciate the Senate’s work to include this important provision,” said NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Waldrop. “We especially applaud the efforts of Leader McConnell, who does so much to support Kentucky’s signature industry.”

 

Uniform three-year racehorse depreciation was among numerous tax provisions across many industries that either expired at the beginning of 2018 or this year, or were set to expire as of Jan. 1, 2020. The bill reinstates the 3-year schedule for all racehorses retroactive to 2018 and through 2020.
The provision allows taxpayers to depreciate, on a three-year schedule, racehorses 24 months of age and younger when purchased and placed into service, as opposed to a seven-year schedule.

 

Three-year racehorse depreciation was most recently available to the industry in 2017 but Congress did not renew it for 2018 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in December 2017. The TCJA did include 100% bonus depreciation and a $1 million Sec. 179 expense allowance for qualified depreciable property, two important investment incentives that lessened the need for three-year depreciation in many cases. However, three-year depreciation continues to be a beneficial option for many racehorse owners, especially racing partnerships with multiple passive owners, as it better aligns deductions with corresponding income opportunities on an annual basis.

 

Maintaining the three-year recovery period for racehorse purchases has been a top legislative priority for the NTRA federal legislative team since the provision’s initial enactment as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.

 

About the NTRA
The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance; NTRA.com; the Eclipse Awards; the National Horseplayers Championship; NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program; and Horse PAC®, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).
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Three-Year Racehorse Depreciation Extension Passed by House of Representatives

LEXINGTON, Ky. (December 17, 2019) A key provision that extends three-year tax depreciation for all racehorses through 2020 today passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 297-120. The racehorse provision is part of a larger tax package agreed to by Republican and Democratic leaders and now expected to be taken up by the Senate in the next several days.

Uniform three-year racehorse depreciation was among numerous tax provisions across many industries that either expired at the beginning of 2018 or this year, or were set to expire as of Jan. 1, 2020. The bill reinstates the 3-year schedule for all racehorses retroactive to 2018.

The provision allows taxpayers to depreciate, on a three-year schedule, racehorses 24 months of age and younger when purchased and placed into service, as opposed to a seven-year schedule.

“Reinstatement of three-year depreciation for all racehorses helps attract and retain investment in the horse racing industry,” said NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Waldrop. “We appreciate the House’s work to include this important provision.”

Three-year racehorse depreciation was most recently available to the industry in 2017 but Congress did not renew it for 2018 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in December 2017. The TCJA did include 100% bonus depreciation and a $1 million Sec. 179 expense allowance for qualified depreciable property, two important investment incentives that lessened the need for three-year depreciation in many cases. However, three-year depreciation continues to be a beneficial option for many racehorse owners, especially racing partnerships with multiple passive owners, as it better aligns deductions with corresponding income opportunities on an annual basis.

Maintaining the three-year recovery period for racehorse purchases has been a top legislative priority for the NTRA federal legislative team since the provision’s initial enactment as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.

The Senate has until Friday, December 20, to pass this legislation.

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NTRA to Support Legislation to Ban Horse Slaughter in U.S.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 12, 2019) – The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced today that it will support the passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 961) that would prevent the horse slaughter industry from reestablishing operations in the United States and prohibit the export of American horses abroad for slaughter. The action was taken at the regularly scheduled meeting of the NTRA Board of Directors held in New York on June 6.

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is something the NTRA has opposed for many years,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “In the last decade alone, thousands of retired U.S. racehorses have been adopted and transitioned to second careers. The development and growth of quality racehorse aftercare programs continue to be a high priority for the industry.”

About the NTRA

The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance; NTRA.com; the Eclipse Awards; the National Horseplayers Championship; NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program; and Horse PAC®, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).

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$100,000 grant from NTRA Charities to establish new UK Equine Surfaces and Safety Laboratory

By Holly Wiemers

LEXINGTON, Ky., (April 17, 2019) – A gift of $100,000 announced today by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Charities will enable the University of Kentucky to further support equine surfaces and safety research under the direction of Mick Peterson, director of UK Ag Equine Programs.

Funds will be used to renovate existing space within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment to create the NTRA Charities Equine Surfaces and Safety Laboratory. The investment will allow UK to make a meaningful impact on the sport of horse racing through surface and safety research conducted by Peterson, a nationally known expert in surface safety and faculty member in the UK Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering.

“NTRA Charities is excited to support UK’s new Equine Surfaces and Safety Research Laboratory, which through its important work will absolutely lead to a safer racing environment for our human and equine athletes,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “This presents a unique opportunity to achieve significant advancements in the science of creating and maintaining safer racetrack surfaces. This lab will also help us train the next generation of track maintenance personnel to analyze the wealth of data that will soon be available to keep racing surfaces as safe as possible.”

In 2016, UK acted upon the recognized need to expand its research capabilities in the area of safety and recruited Peterson as a faculty member and director of UK Ag Equine Programs. Peterson joined the team, relocating the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory (RSTL) to Kentucky, and he continues to improve the safety of horse and rider in horse racing and sport horse endeavors.

“NTRA has reviewed variations on this proposal for nearly two years and we are very pleased to see it go forward. The job does not end here. We anticipate continued calls on the industry to fund specific surfaces research projects undertaken in this new laboratory,” said Steve Koch, executive director, NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance.

“The UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is committed to our signature equine industry in all ways. In particular, we are dedicated to all aspects of safety in our sport,” said Dean Nancy Cox. “This gift allows us to do important research to assist Thoroughbred racing and to create a pipeline of experts to serve racetrack safety.”

Under the direction of Peterson, RSTL has been particularly effective at reinforcing the welfare and safety commitment through its central testing laboratory for dirt, turf and synthetic racing surface materials. To date, testing has included more than 70 different racing and training tracks around the world. Equipment development from the lab includes riding crop design assessment, testing maintenance equipment and performance tests of starting gate and rail padding. The RSTL materials laboratory inspired efforts by the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) that have now expanded activities to arena surfaces testing, including large scale sample analysis that is available only in Sweden.

“This laboratory will allow us to do racetrack surfaces testing on a larger scale to permit us to replicate surface properties using maintenance equipment on the surfaces, which have been observed on racetracks but are not well understood. Understanding racetrack maintenance is key to providing a consistent racing surface regardless of the weather,” Peterson said.

The laboratory will work to solve today’s problems associated with surface and safety research. Projects which are currently funded but have previously been space constrained include:

  • The development of real-time moisture sensors for racing surfaces
  • Shoeing effects on swing phase joint loading
  • Real-time sensing of gait parameters
  • Subsurface design of racetracks
  • The effect of harrowing on the formation of the racetrack hardpan
  • New tools for the measurement of cushion depth on dirt racetracks and moisture and penetration resistance on turf tracks

The laboratory has the potential to offer substantial new areas for industry development, including:

  • The effect of a harrowed racing surface on optimal helmet design
  • The potential for new horseshoe designs to reduce loading rate for arteriosclerosis risk reduction
  • The development of new sensors for fan engagement and handicapping data using ‘internet of things’ technologies

Additionally, the expanded laboratory would provide space for undergraduate and graduate students to learn from and participate in innovative research and for important entities within the industry, such as track superintendents, to advance their knowledge and skills in a hands‐on setting.

Renovation is expected to begin by summer with space beginning to be used for research within a few months.

Writer: Holly Wiemers, 859-257-2226

UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment through its land-grant mission, reaches across the commonwealth with teaching, research and extension to enhance the lives of Kentuckians.

About NTRA Charities

Formed in 1999, NTRA Charities is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) public charity whose mission is to promote and support charities in or related to the Thoroughbred industry. Contributions to NTRA Charities are tax deductible.

About the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance

The NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance establishes and implements standards promoting safety and integrity in horseracing. Corporate partners of the Alliance include Insurance Office of America and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Information on the Alliance, including the Alliance Code of Standards, can be found at NTRAalliance.com.

About the NTRA

The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance; NTRA.com; the Eclipse Awards; the National Horseplayers Championship; NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program; and Horse PAC®, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).

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