Stuart S. Janney III: Good morning. Welcome to the Round Table Conference. This is the 67th time we have had one, and we appreciate your interest, whether you're sitting here with us in the ballroom of the Gideon Putnam, watching on TVG 2, or downloading the live video stream from The Jockey Club or the TVG websites. I'm very grateful to Kip Levin and TVG for making this conference available on line.
I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to the board members of the RCI and the International Harmonization of Race-Day Rules committee, both of whom have been holding organizational meetings here in Saratoga this week.
This has been a year really like no other in the Thoroughbred industry. The fatalities at Santa Anita in recent months have battered our sport. If we didn't know before, we all know now what it's like living under a dark cloud.
We can't and shouldn't be lulled into a false sense of security by the festive nature of this highly successful Saratoga race meet. The health, safety, and welfare of our equine athletes should also be the single top priority for everyone who makes his or her living in this industry. But that isn't always the case as we know all too well.
In the first half of today's program we'll hear from several individuals who understand and appreciate the importance of equine welfare and the integrity of the sport and have strategies or programs in place to move us out from under that dark cloud.
In the second half we will see and hear insights on topics we couldn't have dreamed of in the past, such as fixed-odds betting and legalized sports betting. There are innovative ways to grow our business, once our safety and integrity have been resolved. We will hear from those people shortly and I look forward to it.
I think in the end we need to ask ourselves several questions:
What do we want to be as a sport and what are we prepared to do to realize that goal? Do we want to be a national sport, one that is followed closely by fans throughout the country as baseball, football, basketball and hockey are?
Or do we want to be a marginal sport that gets perfunctory coverage on three or four weekends a year?. A sport where our own customers question the fairness of competition. A sport that is perceived as being cruel to the equine athletes.
I hope that you'll keep those big-picture questions in mind as we go through today's program. So now, as always, we're immensely grateful to all of the speakers that will be with us. I extend a special thanks to Kim Kelly from Hong Kong and John Messara. They have come from a long distance to be with us and we appreciate it.
We will begin the program with a report on the activities of The Jockey Club. So I'll welcome Laura Barillaro, our executive vice president and chief financial officer to the podium. Laura.