The Thoroughbred Racing Associations was formed in 1942 when the advent of World War II essentially forced a halt on racing in the country. Realizing racing needed guidance, Alfred G. Vanderbilt, then president of Pimlico and Belmont Park, planted the seed to form a commission of racetracks.
The first conference held in Chicago on March 19, 1942, attracted a who´s who of racing at the time, including Jockey Club chairman William Woodward, prominent breeder A.B. Hancock, and track presidents Henry Parr III and Carleton F. Burke, among others. From that seed, the TRA grew. The TRA moved into the new century with 48 member racing associations operating 41 racetracks in the United States and Canada.
Through the years, the TRA has played a leading role in the establishment of many programs beneficial to the racing industry. In 1946, the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, a subsidiary of the TRA, was formed to preserve the integrity and security in racing, and today maintains the most extensive, private collection of records on individuals and horses as well as tattoo information.
In 1972, the TRA, in conjunction with the Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers Association, established the Eclipse Awards to recognize racing’s national champions. In 1990, the TRA formed Equibase with the Jockey Club, thereby creating an industry-owned database of racing information that enabled the unfettered growth of full-card simulcasting. The more intangible services of the TRA exist within the unified racetrack voice it provides in regulatory, legislative and other industry matters.
The role and services of the TRA include:
- Serving as a strong and unified voice of the Thoroughbred racing industry and as such should include as many Thoroughbred tracks as possible, provided each track adheres to the TRA Code of Standards and By-Laws.
- Placing the maximum emphasis on the integrity of racing.
- Representing the TRA members in the area of Federal legislation, by sponsoring and/or performing activities connected therewith.
- Serving as a clearing house for information, reports, statistical data, ideas, promotions, problem areas, etc.
- Creating various programs, activities, ventures, and enterprises related to Thoroughbred racing.
- Maintaining liaison with (a) organizations and associations representing other segments of the Thoroughbred industry, and (b) with organizations and associations of other horse breeds.
- Among its more high profile services, the TRA annually stages the International Simulcast Conference to keep the industry abreast of technological advances and other common issues regarding simulcasting. The fall conference now attracts more than 500 attendees each year.
The TRA collects and compiles as much information of professional interest to its membership, but the value of the information is equal only to the members´ ability to access it. Therefore, in 1999, the TRA initiated an electronic database of industry-related material for member tracks, which is accessed via the Internet. The private document database allows member tracks to view, print, and download economic impact studies, TRA surveys, federal legislation, and a variety of other reports.
Finally, the TRA website offers a host of services, primarily to TRA racetracks, but also to the industry as a whole. The website currently provides the following services:
- Standardized Uniform Simulcast Contract, including exhibits and schedules: files available for download in various formats for convenience;
- Directory of Simulcast Contacts: current contact information of simulcast personnel at various racetracks;
- Eclipse Awards: a complete record of past and current recipients;
- TRA members: a complete registry of links to their websites;
- Weekly Leaders: contains weekly stats on leading jockeys, trainers and horses;
- Press Releases: provides the latest TRA news and information.
- TRA-Fred Russel-Grantland Rice Scholarship – four-year scholarship is co-sponsored by Vanderbilt University and the TRA