Edward J. DeBartolo (at that time, the owner of Balmoral, Thistledown and Louisiana Downs) built Remington Park in Oklahoma City as a $100 million showcase for Thoroughbred racing. The inaugural race meet during the fall of 1988 was an opportunity for Oklahoma Thoroughbred horsemen to race in their home state and for horsemen from throughout the region to enjoy Oklahoma’s hospitality.
With so many of Oklahoma’s Thoroughbred horsemen having been HBPA members when racing in other states, it was logical for an affiliate to be formed. To represent everybody who races Thoroughbreds in the state, the Oklahoma Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (OKHBPA) was incorporated as a non-profit association in 1993. For local/state identification purposes, the association has added a “dba” of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma (TRAO). With more than 1,500 owner and owner/trainer members, the association’s mission is akin to that of the other affiliates … improve horse racing at all levels.
In general, this includes:
- Providing medical, dental and other benevolent assistance to members and their employees.
- Negotiating contracts with the racetracks. In addition to addressing the backside conditions, the OKHBPA takes seriously state law that requires agreements between the tracks and horsemen. “(Racetracks) shall negotiate and covenant with the (horsemen’s) representative … as to the conditions for each race meeting, the distribution of commissions and purses not governed by statutory distribution formulae, simulcast transmission and reception, off-track wagering, all matters relating to welfare, benefits and prerogatives of participants.” (O.S. 3A, Sec. 267)
- Granting permission to disseminate interstate simulcast signals to be received by various wagering partners throughout the United States. US Code; Title 15 Chapter 57 Inter-State Horseracing Act.
- Representing the interests of Thoroughbred racing to the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission.
- Influencing legislation at the state and national levels.