Annual Meeting 2007 Press Release

RTCA Celebrates its 35th Birthday with Record Attendance at its
Chaplains’ School and Annual Meeting

Race Track Chaplaincy of America celebrated its 35th birthday with record attendance at its Chaplains’ School and Annual Meeting March 14-21 at Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel, a gathering that featured the election of new officers, participants from around the world and intensive crisis responsetraining.

Dan Fick, Executive Vice President and Executive Director of the Jockey Club and William Gotwals, whose family owns and operates Brook Ledge Horse Transportation, were elected Secretary and Vice President respectively. They replace Elliott Walden of WinStar Farm and Lone Star Park Chaplain Sam Ed Spence whose term limits had expired. The Executive Committee appointed as its International Representative, Dr. Karin Sowada, who lives in Sydney and heads the Australian Racing Christian Chaplaincy.

New Regional Directors include John Harris, California Horse Racing Board Vice Chairman, John Roark, former president of the Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Rick Hooper, Chief Council for the Georgia based Shaw Industries Group, Tom Davis, a New Mexico Racing Secretary, former Kentucky trainer Bill Million, Prairie Meadows Horsemen’s Liaison Chuck Schott, Pennsylvania Pastor Dr. J. Val Hastings, Sr. and Maine writer Laura Ricard. Rose Salios, who along with her husband, Rev. Nick Salios, was elected as a Board Member Emeritus.

A record 145 persons, including a record 51 chaplains, came from the U.S. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina to train on a variety of spiritual items as well as immigration issues and grief counseling. Twenty-seven chaplains stayed over at Churchill Downs’ dorms on March 22-23 and underwent two days of training in crisis response at the track’s new Christ Chapel. Leading the training was Gene Grounds, Executive Director of the Richardson, TX based Victim Relief Ministries, which trains chaplains and senior church leaders to aid in disasters.

“The original vision is being completed,” said RTCA President, Rev. Edward Smith. “We’re continuing to find more and better ways to be relevant to the global racing community.”

A total of 38 RTCA chaplains are now trained and members of the White Horse Riders who will deploy nationwide to work directly with first responders to aid horse racing related victims of disasters. Former champion jockey and RTCA Industry Representative Pat Day, who completed the training, called the partnership between VRM and RTCA “a match made in heaven.”

Day earned a bright yellow shirt designating his certification to serve during crisis. “The training fits because our chaplains work in traumatic situations at tracks everyday, and they’re also strategically placed throughout the nation to work together with churches and first responders. I’m ready to go.”

RTCA was chartered in Florida as a non-profit corporation in 1972 as the original vision of H.W. “Salty” Roberts, a New Jersey exercise rider and parking lot attendant. Roberts said he was despondent because of his addiction to alcohol and on his knees, gun in hand and ready to commit suicide when he reached out to God and received a message to get up and bring Christ to all in horse racing. Today RTCA sanctions and oversees 76 Chaplains who serve at 116 tracks and training/breeding centers in the U.S. and five countries.

“The gathering had a sense of rejoicing because we are growing so fast,” said RTCA Executive Director, Dr. Enrique Torres. “The Lord, as well as so very many in racing, has blessed us.”

For more information contact Dr. Enrique Torres or Development Director, Chaplain Ed Donnally at (310) 419-1640 or