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Jason Litt: Why I Left the KTA

It’s no secret the horse industry is struggling. But like any good optimist, I’m always open to new ideas. I recently read Simon Sinek’s book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. The oversimplified concept of the book is how understanding your ‘why’ can contribute to your success.
This is my ‘why’ I chose a career in horse racing.
I love horses. From the unbelievable softness of a newborn foal to the rippling musculature of a stallion, they are majestic.
As an agent, breeder and owner, I enjoy being a custodian of the breed–a breed of horse that’s over 300 years old, a breed that is noble, intelligent, honest and highly competitive. I often remind myself that it’s a privilege, not a right, to be a part of the Thoroughbred horse racing industry. I’ve been fortunate over the last 20 years to work with amazingly talented horses, including some champions. I love the notion that 50 years from now, some of the horses I’ve been involved with may continue to have an impact on the breed.
I love competition. In 1999, I visited Keeneland for the first time for the September yearling sale with my father, Howard Litt. My father loved the sport. He loved the Damon Runyon-style characters that exist in every racetrack ecosystem, and he loved the mental gymnastics required in handicapping and athleticism of the horses. He sparked my competitive spirit when he made the statement as we were watching horses go through the ring, “Wouldn’t it be cool if out of all of these horses you could pick a good one?”
Simply put, horse racing is hard. The lows of the game can deflate the most optimistic of individuals. We’ve all experienced hot nails, quarter cracks, spiked temps, colic, skin disease and failed fence jumpers, yet we are all bound by our persistence, determination and staying power. There is nothing more gratifying and fulfilling than winning a race and sharing that sense of accomplishment with a group of owners, friends and colleagues. Watching the replay on a continuous loop and recapping every nuance of the race with anyone that will listen isn’t bad, either.
I hope you have an understanding of my ‘why.’ When I joined the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association three years ago, I was open-minded and excited about making a difference. Unfortunately, the gap between my ‘why’ and that of the KTA is too large to bridge, and therefore I am stepping down as a Director and making my reasons public. It’s never too late to learn from our mistakes, hold people accountable for their actions or lack thereof and to embrace bold ideas.
Unfortunately, the recent events regarding HHR show how unprepared the organization has been to address an issue that has been working through the courts for over seven years. There is no disputing how important the revenue from HHR has become to the health of our industry. It is the KTA’s role that all members in the assembly understand and appreciate the importance of our industry to both Kentucky’s economy and image. The fact that there has never been a successfully organized KTA effort to educate legislators or develop a plan to support the election of legislators that will have a favorable perception of our industry is shocking.
I can no longer in good faith be associated with an organization that has been caught so unprepared to take a stand to protect the Kentucky Thoroughbred and all the jobs associated with this industry.
Jason Litt
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