VanBebber Blog

Good things to talk about as we approach the year's end.

My last blog talked about a focus on the positive. We are a few months closer to the end of the year, and we still have plenty of good things to talk about.

In the past 30 days, Ruidoso Downs celebrated the closing of the deal that brings new owners to the New Mexico oval. Not only am I confident that the partnership of All American Ruidoso Downs LLC – Stan Sigman, Johnny Trotter, John Andreini and Narciso “Chicho” Flores – will hold the needs of our breed paramount, but they have already published documents that outline their stance on integrity. Kudos, gentlemen!

Speaking of integrity, while the ink was drying on the aforementioned deal, many of the rest of us were at Prairie Meadows for the 2017 Bank of America Challenge Championships and AQHA Racing Conference. The fields were all well-represented by horses who successfully passed the hair testing as a condition of entry, and the Iowa track boasted a great night of racing. Congratulations to all that participated.

Moving forward, fabulous races will be held showcasing our sport’s best at Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos, Zia Park, Sunland Park, Evangeline Downs, Fair Grounds and Will Rogers Downs, all before we ring in the New Year. Millions of dollars will be distributed and championships will be on the line.

This is an exciting time for racing the American Quarter Horse!

This is an exciting time for your chief racing officer, too! I’ve just returned from a trip to Mexico City where I joined AQHA First Vice President Dr. Jim Heird, Dr. Jessica Leatherwood and program coordinator Hanna Galloway, in conducting an educational seminar for horsemen at Hippodromo de las Americas.

The program is put on by the Texas A&M Equine Initiative, and funded through the American Quarter Horse Foundation’s Verdugo Grant. I was honored to represent our Association and offer my industry knowledge to the horsemen of Hippodromo.

This week, we I will be at the Heritage Place Fall Sale, and look forward to hearing what the Legends have to say on Thursday. This year features past presidents of AQHA. Hope to see you there.

On November 17, I will be in San Antonio for the American Association of Equine Practitioners Conference. I have organized a meeting of laboratory directors to discuss standardized testing processes in hair testing. Key industry stockholders have been invited, and we hope to leave with an increased awareness regarding the procedure. The subject is also slated as a panel discussion at the International Racing and Gaming Symposium in Tucson, Arizona, on December 6.

The intent of these gatherings is to instill faith in hair testing as a tool in increasing integrity, and thereby move forward with our Association’s pursuit of uniformity among jurisdictions. While we are a lot closer in reaching national uniformity than we were a year ago, we still have some work to do in getting all the commissions aligned. A discussion during the Racing Conference in Iowa revealed unanimous support of hair testing in all regions that hold Challenge races, but we still have some work to do before getting there.

A few of my “to do” list items?

While keeping a hand in all the activities listed above, I will be working with the racing department staff and the Challenge Task Force in creating new ideas for our 25-year-old program.

I will be keeping an eye on issues in Texas and Florida, as those states deal with setbacks to racing, and helping wherever possible.

As always, I will be taking your calls and emails to see how I can be of better service to you.

Thank you for your support of the American Quarter Horse Association. Know that we appreciate you!

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