Eric Hamelback

Miles Ahead Voted Claiming Crown Horse of the Year

Miles Ahead (g, 5, Competitive Edge--Jennie R., by Awesome Again), winner of last term's GIII Smile Sprint Invitational S. and the Claiming Crown Rapid Transit, has been named the 2021 Claiming Crown Horse of the Year. The honor is voted on by the National HBPA's Industry Awards Committee, chaired by Todd Mostoller from the Pennsylvania HBPA. Miles Ahead will be recognized at the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) annual awards dinner on Sept. 10. The Claiming Crown--designed to give the blue-collar workhorses their own championship day--is sponsored by the...

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NHBPA, Industry Statements on HISA Decision

After Thursday's dismissal by a federal judge of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA)'s lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA), the NHBPA issued the following response: "Aspects of this law will have a devastating effect on our industry and put many hardworking horsemen and horsewomen out of business," said National HBPA CEO Eric Hamelback. "We've been saying for several years that this legislation was illegal. We are considering our options to appeal the decision and remain committed to doing due diligence to...

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HBPA Panel on Fixed Odds: Future of Wagering

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.--Dave Basler sees betting on table tennis in Asia and envisions it being replaced with horse racing in America's burgeoning sports books. "We can fill that void a lot of times during the day so that they don't have to play table tennis from China or cricket from Australia--things that people have no idea about," Basler, the executive director of the Ohio HBPA, said Thursday during a morning session of the National HBPA Conference at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort. "That's not just attractive to sports books, that's attractive...

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Lukas to be Keynote Speaker at HBPA Convention

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will deliver the keynote address at the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA)'s annual convention in March. The conference will be held Mar. 1-5 at Oaklawn Park's new hotel overlooking the first turn. "When we seek out our keynote speaker, we look for inspiration and passion," said Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. "Not only do we get that in spades with D. Wayne Lukas, but his overall legacy is unmatched in horse racing. Yet it's not only that Wayne has...

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Virginia Vet Daniels Elected National HBPA President

Dr. Doug Daniels, a horse owner and equine veterinarian, was elected president of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association at the organization's full board meeting last week at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, Iowa. Daniels, the lone candidate to replace Leroy Gessmann, has been vice president of the Virginia HBPA and a member of the executive committee of the National HBPA since 2019. In addition to his Virginia Equine PLLC practice, Daniels also works for the Virginia Racing Commission when his services are required as a regulatory...

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Labor Reform in Washington: Could it Help Racing?

For many trainers around the country, their biggest practical worry from day to day isn't the patchwork quilt of medication rules and regulations, or the fear that one trainer has an unfair competitive edge over another, but whether they've enough grooms, hotwalkers and riders populating their barns to properly tend to the horses in their care. With fewer and fewer North Americans siphoning into horse racing, the sport has turned for relief, of course, with growing reliance on Central and South America--what has proven an increasingly tenuous stable of talent...

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Speakers Announced for Track Supers Field Day at Indiana

The lineup of speakers has been announced for the 20th annual Track Superintendents Field Day set for June 14-15 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. Among the speakers on the agenda are Joe Morris, senior vice president of racing for Caesars; Mike Ziegler, senior vice president and general manager of Churchill Downs, Dr. Michael DePew, an agronomist/soil scientist and industry-leading leading soil expert; trainer Michael Dickinson, president of Tapeta Footings Inc.; Dr. William Farmer, equine medical director for Churchill Downs Inc.; and Eric Hamelback, CEO of the National HBPA. The...

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Op/Ed Feedback: Why Is Legality Considered Optional?

by Peter Ecabert Bill Finley, in his Mar. 17 TDN opinion piece on the National HBPA challenging the legality of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, wrote: "It's hard to imagine that there is one horseman anywhere who cares one bit whether or not HISA is unconstitutional or not." To Mr. Finley, it doesn't matter if this legislation, ramrodded through to passage with no Senate Committee discussion or debate as a little-known add-on to December's COVID relief bill, is legal or not. Who cares about the law's legality? he asks....

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Claiming Crown Returns to Gulfstream for Ninth Year in a Row

The 22nd edition of the Claiming Crown, a nine-race event offering $835,000 in purses to the blue-collar horses that are the backbone of the Thoroughbred industry's day-to-day racing schedule, will return to Gulfstream Park for the ninth consecutive year Saturday, Dec. 5. Handle on the Claiming Crown has climbed each of the last eight years since being held at Gulfstream. The Claiming Crown is a partnership between the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). "The Claiming Crown from its inception has...

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HBPA 'Never Consulted' on New Version of Integrity Act

Six hours after an Aug. 31 press conference at which United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other proponents of a federal bill announced newly achieved compromise among industry stakeholders in crafting new anti-doping oversight for horse racing, Eric Hamelback, the CEO of the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), told TDN that his organization is actually not on board with the plan. Hamelback's emailed clarification was in response to a request for comment from TDN that did not arrive in time to be included in the...

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Mental Health Concerns Rising Amid Pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the subject of mental health seems to be working its way closer to the forefront of the news media and the public's attention. Data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month revealed that as many as one in four people between 18 and 24 years of age surveyed between June 24 and 30 had had suicidal thoughts in the past 30 days. The study showed that 11% of adults in the general population had considered suicide during the...

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Pandemic Affects Visas, Limiting H-2B Workers

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- George Weaver feels it. So do Chad Brown, Todd Pletcher and Shug McGaughey. Among the many new issues that Thoroughbred trainers across the country must contend with during the 2020 pandemic is a shortage of skilled staff. In recent years, it has become more difficult for horsemen to secure all the H-2B visas that they desire to legally bring foreign nationals into the country as guest workers. The arrival of COVID-19 in late winter closed U.S. consulates, compounding the problems, preventing visa holders from getting their...

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