What is TIF?
The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation aims to improve the thoroughbred racing industry for all stakeholders, especially its primary customers - gamblers and owners - through the exchange, curation and advocacy of sound, data-driven ideas, shared with and implemented by the sport’s existing entities.
We want to hear your ideas! Click HERE to share them.
TIF Board of Directors
Rory Babich currently assists in the operation of St. Elias Stables. Before moving to the horse racing and breeding business, he served as the CEO and President of the NHL’s Florida Panthers and BB&T Arena. Previously, Babich worked as the Chief Operating Officer of the liquid markets funds business of Fortress Investment Group.
Babich joined Fortress after working as an executive with Swiss Re Group, one of the world’s largest reinsurers. He began his career as an international corporate attorney at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison where he worked in their New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo offices on a wide range on global transactions.
DONNA BARTON BROTHERS
Donna Barton Brothers is the Chief Operating Officer of Starlight and Star Ladies Racing. Brothers was the second leading female jockey in America by career earnings when she retired at the end of a 12-year career in 1998 following 1,130 wins.
Donna is most recognizable for her coverage of horse racing on NBC Sports but her involvement in horse racing has been a lifelong passion. She’s covered horse racing for NBC Sports since 2000, covering multiple Triple Crown races and Breeders’ Cup Championships, even Show Jumping, Bull Riding and other horse sports. Brothers is also an author and wrote Inside Track: Insider’s Guide to Horse Racing— a book intended to bridge the gap between the novice horse racing fan and the, at times, complicated sport of horse racing.
Craig Bernick is President and Chief Executive Officer of Glen Hill Farm, a breeding and racing operation based in Ocala, Florida, as well as a managing partner in Elevage Bloodstock, which invests in stallion shares and broodmares. A former Breeders Cup Director, Bernick launched the Wagering Committee and was co-chairman of the Racing and Nominations Committee.
In addition to supporting many thoroughbred charities, Bernick is an officer of the Lavin Family Foundation, which supports education, after-school and health programs in the Chicago area. Before entering the thoroughbred business, Bernick was a business development and marketing executive at The Alberto-Culver Company. Bernick recently founded the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation.
Catherine Donovan is a retired NY attorney who has been involved in thoroughbred breeding and racing for over 20 years. Catherine moved to NY from Sydney, Australia with her husband Gavin Murphy in 1992 to pursue her legal career and was a partner in Akin Gump’s NY hedge fund practice. Catherine then worked for nearly a decade leading knowledge management initiatives - projects that utilize technology to facilitate knowledge sharing.
In addition to her legal career, Catherine has been actively involved in many aspects of thoroughbred breeding, sales and racing in the US and her native Australia through her involvement with SF Bloodstock globally and Newgate Farm and Amarina Farm in Australia. Catherine also serves on the board of Pro Bono Net, a national non-profit that develops technology to expand the scope of legal services to the poor and underserved in the US.
Bluegrass native Lesley Howard has nearly 20 years of experience in the Thoroughbred industry. With a degree in Accounting from the University of Kentucky, Lesley practiced as a Certified Public Accountant with Dean Dorton & Ford for six years before accepting the position of Chief Financial Officer for Stonestreet Farm in 2005. As one of the original team members, Lesley plays an integral role in the organization best known for racing Curlin and Rachel Alexandra and was named Chief Executive Officer of the operation in 2016, the position she holds today.
In addition to professional accounting organizations, Lesley is on the board of directors of the Gluck Equine Research Center and is Treasurer of the Thoroughbred Charities of America. A member of TOBA, Gunns Chapel United Methodist Church and the Thoroughbred Club of America she is an avid supporter of Bluegrass Farms Charities and New Vocations, a racehorse retraining program.
Corey Johnsen is the former President and part-owner of Kentucky Downs, which offers the largest daily purse structure in North America at its all-turf boutique meet in September. Kentucky Downs also offers pari-mutuel wagering on historical horse racing (HHR), the innovative gaming product which will produce approximately $20 million in 2018 for purses and Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund monies in Kentucky. Johnsen was the Chairman of the Kentucky Equine Education Project from 2011 – 2018, when that industry horse organization was a driving force behind the development of HHR.
An active owner and breeder, Johnsen’s CJ Thoroughbreds has campaigned a number of stakes winners. As the first employee hired at Lone Star Park in 1994, Johnsen became the President and part-owner of the new Texas track, which hosted the 2004 Breeders’ Cup. Having also worked at Arlington Park, Louisiana Downs, Remington Park and Turf Paradise, Johnsen was the President of Thoroughbred Racing Associations – a prominent industry organization representing more than 40 North American racetracks – from 2005 to 2007.
Paul Matties, Jr. is an Eclipse Award winning handicapper, who has been a professional gambler for over 25 years. He's won major handicapping contests from coast to coast, with his biggest win coming in the 2016 National Handicapping Contest (NHC17). He has engineered numerous significant winning pick six tickets at every major circuit in North America and Hong Kong.
Paul was an original member of the Beyer Associates, which produces speed figures for the Daily Racing Form, as well as a chartman and columnist for the Racing Times in the 1990s. In 2006, he co-founded, NHPlay, Inc, a horse player services and development company that works with all the major ADW's in the United States. He is also a licensed owner. Along with his brother, Duke, Paul manages the stakes winning Matties Racing Stable, LLC, which has won more than 600 races at over 30 tracks in the US and Canada
Since being introduced to racing at a young age by his father, Justin Nicholson has been involved in the sport in many capacities. He is the majority owner and manager of a private racing and breeding operation called AJ Suited Racing Stable, which formed in 2008. He launched a public ownership syndicate called Ninety North Racing Stable in 2011 with the goal of bringing new owners into the game at a more modest price point. Ninety North ran through 2017, but was wound down as Nicholson took on a new venture, launching Equestricon, the first horse racing convention, fan festival, and trade show along with two partners. At present, Nicholson owns a barn at Fair Hill Training Center and has interests in approximately 20 horses. He also serves on the board of NTRA Horse PAC.
Nicholson resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Kathryn Sharp, and though racing is his passion, he also works in his family’s real estate investment and management business.
Tom Reynolds has over 30 years of Consumer Products Sales and Marketing experience and avid passion for the sport of Horse Racing. During his long career with the Quaker Oats Company and PepsiCo he worked on such iconic brands as Gatorade, Pepsi, and Frito-Lay to name a few. Most recently he led the USA FoodserviceTeam at PepsiCo that covered schools, vending businesses and sports venues which included racetracks.
His love of racing is long and is varied; Tom has “played the races“ for decades and over the past 5-10 years, entered in numerous handicapping tournaments while most recently he has become a horse owner via Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
Gary Stevens is a Hall of Fame Jockey and has been an actor and sports analyst. He became a professional jockey in 1979 and rode his first of three Kentucky Derby winners in 1988. He has also won the Preakness and Belmont three times each, as well as 10 Breeders Cup races. He entered the United States Racing Hall of Fame in 1997.
Stevens has won numerous awards and prizes in the horse racing industry, including the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1996. He is also a former Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Jockey. In addition to the United States, Stevens has ridden successfully in Hong Kong and England.
He had an acting role in the 2003 film Seabiscuit. After his second temporary retirement from riding in 2005, he worked for TVG and then HRTV and NBC Sports as a horse racing analyst for seven years, had a brief stint as a trainer, and had a few other acting roles, notably in the TV series Luck.
Stevens has returned to broadcasting since his official retirement in 2018.
Jack and Laurie Wolf founded Starlight Stables in 2000 when they purchased six yearlings at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale. Among the group was a bay colt by Harlan who developed into multiple Grade 1 winner Harlan’s Holiday and launched Starlight into racing’s upper echelon. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Jack worked as a professor and hedge fund manager with Columbus Partners in Atlanta before retiring to concentrate on racing.
Jack’s passion for horse racing and high regard for the horse led him, in 2011, to orchestrate the launch of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), the industry's first broad-based initiative dedicated to helping retired Thoroughbreds. He still serves on their Board of Directors. He is also a past Board member of the Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA) and the Race For Education. For his contributions to horse racing Wolf was honored with the Warner L. Jones Horseman of the Year Award in 2013.
TIF Executive Director
A former executive with the Hong Kong Jockey Club and racing technology and data provider Trakus, Pat has been involved in racing for the last two decades in a variety of media and communications roles. He joined TIF as Executive Director following a three-year stint leading the HKJC’s racing public affairs division and has a wealth of international racing experience.
Cummings, originally from Philadelphia, earned his MBA from Baylor University in 2011 and his undergraduate degree at Dickinson College in 2002. He also covered Dubai racing for a number of outlets for nearly a decade. Cummings has enjoyed the thrill of horse ownership through several syndicates and is a current member of Kentucky-based Brilliant Racing and South Africa’s Onamission Syndicate.