Adapted from a Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association release

With a record number of ballots returned, members of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) have elected seven new Directors and eight incumbents from a slate of 29 hopefuls in the recently concluded Board of Directors election.

Ballots were mailed nationwide to 2,169 currently licensed owners and trainers in early July from Election Trust, a third-party election services company that specializes in the administration of corporate and non-profit board elections.

The new board includes four new owners and three new trainers.  Ellen Charles, JoAnn Hayden, Robert Manfuso, and Chip Reed comprise the new owners, while Ferris Allen, Graham Motion, and Michael Trombetta are the three new trainers.

Four incumbents were not re-elected.  Most notable among those was Richard Hoffberger, who had served as the organization’s president for some 27 years before stepping down from that role, amid an acrimonious split in the organization, in 2013.

The other incumbents who ran but did not win re-election were owner Neil Glasser, a three-term member; and trainers Chris Grove and Robert Bailes.

Two other members of the current board — current president Richard Meyer and Howard Bender  — did not stand for reelection.

The election results will likely be seen by many as a call for continued reform.  The organization underwent wrenching internal fighting in 2012 and 2013, with a group led by board member R. Larry Johnson claiming that the then-current leadership was out of touch and unaccountable to the membership — a claim bitterly denied by then-president Hoffberger and several other board members.

Johnson, a forensic accountant who lives in Virginia but races primarily in Maryland and owns two stallions standing at Heritage Stallions in Chesapeake City, sent a widely disseminated letter to MTHA members last month calling for a slate of candidates that would “continue the needed process of change and transparency… [and] embrace change.”

That slate included six of the seven trainers ultimately elected and five of the seven owners.

The new board will be seated at a time when Maryland is widely perceived to have turned the corner on issues such as race days (with a 10-year agreement with the Stronach Group, which owns the racetracks, in place), breeding (with new owner-breeder bonuses), and raceday medications (having adopted the national uniform medication program).

Yet there will be much to do.  Ensuring the continued success of the 10-year deal will be one paramount goal, as will working with other partners in the industry to ensure that racing continues to receives its share of slots revenues.

And some of the newly elected board, Johnson and current member Michael Horning foremost among them, have been vocal in calling for change within the MTHA itself, as have several of the newly elected members (here).  Resolving those issues will take a concerted effort, as well.

By the close of business on August 15, 2014, more than 25% of the ballots mailed — 558 in all — had been returned to Election Trust. This participation rate far exceeds previous elections conducted by the MTHA, as well as national non-profit election averages, according to representatives at Election Trust.

The MTHA has not at this time released vote counts.

The following individuals were elected to the Board of Directors. All terms are three years.

OWNERS: Christine E. Bricker, Ellen M. Charles, JoAnn Hayden, Michael F. Horning, R. Larry Johnson, Robert T. Manfuso and Charles “Chip” J. Reed.

TRAINERS: A. Ferris Allen III, Dale Capano, Linda S. Gaudet, Timothy L. Keefe, Lawrence E. Murray, H. Graham Motion, Michael J. Trombetta and Katharine M. Voss.

The MTHA Board of Directors election occurs every three years when members of the association select all 15 Directorships. The election of officers will take place at the MTHA’s September board meeting.