Former U.S. congressman Tom Rooney is the new president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA). He released a statement Wednesday, which appears below. For more insight into Rooney's plans and priorities for the NTRA, watch or listen to the final 2021 Writers' Room podcast (links appear at the bottom of the story). Following is Rooney's Wednesday statement in its entirety:
Horse racing has been in my family since long before I was born, and I've grown up with a passion for the sport. When I retired from Congress a few years ago, many people asked me what I would do next. I often responded that I wasn't too sure, I was going to coach my kids in football, and that my dream would be to own a horse that would run in the Kentucky Derby.
Fast forward to last year, when my predecessor Alex Waldrop announced he was retiring from NTRA. When I heard about this opportunity, I thought to myself how much I love horse racing, and how deeply I want to be a part of it for the rest of my life. Now, as the new President and CEO of this great organization, I am excited for the future of the industry and feel deeply honored to help play a small part in shaping what that future looks like.
It's not lost on me that the industry and racing as a whole has changed significantly in my lifetime, and will continue to evolve for future generations. While these changes may be inevitable, it is critical that we have a unified voice to advocate for what's best for the industry overall. I was hired for one reason and one reason only: to go to Washington, D.C. and be that unified voice on behalf of the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry.
As a former Member of Congress, I understand how Washington works. As a horse owner and fan myself, I understand many of the leading issues we face. But as your representative in Washington, I know that I don't have all the answers. I need to spend time with you, listening and understanding, to get a sense of what's most important and how I can most successfully advocate on your behalf. My goal is to build consensus in the industry and tell the positive story of the sport in Washington.
We're always going to face opposition, and there will be some people we can never convince that we're doing what's right by the animals we so deeply care about. We need to constantly strive to do the best that we can do for the industry. We need to hold people accountable for wrongdoing. We need to praise the good news and successes we have. And we need to work to maintain horse racing for generations to come.
I'm eager and excited to work with you and serve as the leader of NTRA. Together, we can continue to do great things.