Donna Barton Brothers, the former jockey and current NBC Sports racing analyst, equine welfare advocate and author, will be the keynote speaker at the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association annual convention in March in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
“Donna is exactly the type of inspirational keynote speaker we seek for the National HBPA Convention: Someone who is passionate about and committed to horse racing but also is not blind to our challenges,” said Eric Hamelback, chief executive officer of the National HBPA. “Donna is an outstanding ambassador for our industry, but she also doesn’t ignore or sugarcoat issues we face. Few have been able to share as eloquently why we all are in love with horses and horse racing–and why we each then must do our part to confront our problems and to make the industry better.
“That is the overarching mission of our convention: to provide or work toward solutions for the complex issues we face and to share information and programs that make a difference. Donna will set the tone for three days of sessions that are designed to be informative but also upbeat, because there is so much to promote and cherish about horse racing.”
Brothers will deliver her keynote address on Mar. 25, the opening day of the three-day event held at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Spa in Hot Springs.
“I am honored and appreciate that Eric would ask me to come speak,” said Brothers, who also serves as chief operating officer for the Starlight Racing and StarLadies Racing partnerships. “I respect all the work Eric has done in the industry to make sure the horsemen’s agenda is seen and heard, and also listening to the horsemen and trying to be an advocate for what’s best for the horses and horsemen.
“If he sees me as an ambassador, I’ll take it. But we are many. I think it’s come to a time where we all need to see ourselves as ambassadors of horse racing, because we need a lot of champions right now… It’s going to take a tag team in today’s culture to get done what we need done.”
Brothers, who is on the executive committee of both the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, recently penned a well-circulated piece on her website entitled PETA is a Bully.
“I just see organizations that are doing really good things for horsemen or horses, and they need help here and there,” she said. “I cannot sit idly by and not help at times. I’m never going to say no to opportunities to help the industry, because horses and horse racing have made me. They are the reason I’m able to live comfortably, so it would be wrong for me to say, ‘You know, I’ve got mine. You guys figure it out.'”
Other speakers on panels or presentations include:
Indiana Grand’s Roy Smith, Oaklawn Park’s Kevin Seymour and industry consultant Javier Barajas on maintaining racetracks, a panel moderated by Horsemen’s Track & Equipment executive vice president Randy Bloch.
Horse owner and economics professor Marshall Gramm, Thoroughbred Idea Foundation executive director Pat Cummings and industry consultant Dick Powell in a discussion moderated by racing broadcaster and commentator Steve Byk on the future of wagering in the industry.
Equine scientist Dr. Tim Potter and toxicologist Dr. Vanessa Fitsanakis of Robson Forensic on risk assessment, investigations and toxicology applications in minimizing exposure to environmental contamination and inadvertent transfer of prohibited substances in horses.
Equine attorney Peter Sacopulos on horsemen’s rights and betting-systems expert Michele Fischer on fixed-odds wagering.
Godolphin’s Katie LaMonica on the Godolphin Thoroughbred Industry Service Awards that recognize those in the trenches in horse racing and on breeding farms
The Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau with a final update on electronic foal-registration papers and micro-chipping
The convention’s sessions conclude that Friday morning with the Kent Stirling Memorial medication panel. An afternoon at Oaklawn Park for the races will follow.
Visit nationalhpba.com for more information.