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Columbus, OH – Phil Langley loved obituaries.  No one alerted us to more deaths than he did, a practice that didn’t abate even after he stepped down as the USTA harness racing president at the end of 2016.  And it wasn’t just that he would let us know that someone had passed away.  Almost always, the notification came attached to a personal quote, anecdote, or story from Phil, along with a brief message asking that his words be included as part of the tribute to the recently departed. It struck me as odd, at least at first.  Over time, though, I grew to understand that harness racing, and especially its people, were fundamentally central to the core of who Phil was, and, beyond that, part of the sport’s shared, collective past.  History must be preserved.  Attention must be paid. The irony is that Phil, the longtime USTA president and Hall of Famer who passed away on Saturday (April 11) at the age of 83, would never have expected anyone to insert themselves into his obituary.  He would have told me not to do it.  That he’s not here to issue that directive is profoundly sad. Here’s what you should know about Phil.  He was smart, a Dartmouth graduate who never played up his Ivy League pedigree.  He saw things largely in black in white, but had great appreciation and patience for viewpoints that weren’t his own.  I can’t remember winning many arguments with him, but that’s because he usually was right, and he never failed to hear me, or anyone else, out.  He was seen as an old school guy, but under his leadership, the USTA embraced and launched an extensive social media initiative and beat every other breed registry to the punch in pioneering online entry.  He was gentle and he was kind.  He loved his wife and kids, of whom he was incredibly proud, and doted on his grandchildren.  He loved being the USTA president, and was proud of the organization and the staff.  He looked out for people.  He had a brilliantly dry sense of humor, loved to laugh, and was a skilled storyteller.  He was stoic about problems and challenges, and I never heard him make an excuse or utter a word in self-pity.   He loved horses and the men and women who cared for them.  He was honest and direct.  If he told you that he would do something, you knew that he would.  He was my friend. Phil had a habit of not saying goodbye at the end of phone calls, which would often conclude abruptly and without warning.  I never quite understood it, and until you got used to it, those endings could be rather jarring.  But when I would think back on the conversation that we had just had, there was nothing left unsaid, nothing that required further clarification.  As he did in every other facet of his life, Phil had covered all the bases. The United States Trotting Association extends its sympathy and condolences to the family of F. Phillip Langley, our leader and our friend.  Thank you for sharing him with us. by Mike Tanner, USTA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer

This articlecolumn was written by John Pricci for Horseracinginsider.com.  Once again, the Thoroughbred racing industry is at loggerheads, only this time appearing before a Congressional Subcommittee hearing which has held these types of inquiries before but perhaps none as meaningful. Never has the industry faced an existential crisis of major proportions. “Too big to fail” is no longer a justifiable defense for a sport whose end-product is more about the sales ring than what happens between the fences. Everyone knows why this is happening, even though some version of the Horseracing Integrity Act has been kicking around since 2015 which, by Capitol Hill standards, is the blink of an eye. On one side people are fighting hard for the lives of horses and the men and women who ride them. On the other are champions of the upperdog who invoke the health of the bottom line in order to maintain the status quo. The solutions proposed by the latter never go quite far enough. What replaces doing the right thing is to question process, making a call for compromise knowing all too well that patchwork unity has never worked. This ersatz search for middle ground is the same kind of hypocrisy practiced by those in Washington who would save the country’s top executive at the cost of a democratic republic. But I digress. As was widely reported in racing publications, Bloodhorse and the Thoroughbred Daily News, to name just two, speaking for the health of the living and breathing was a Hall of Fame jockey who won over 7,000 races. Another advocating for the Horseracing Integrity Act was the former CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club who is now an advisor to the Humane Society of America. In favor of those who hesitate to turn a page and would keep the present frozen in time is a person whose organization would become anachronistic if legislation is enacted, and another who represents a group that would take an economic hit if raceday medication were eliminated. The bipartisan bill – which in this climate should put the legislation over the top without further discussion – would have the United States Anti-Doping Agency form an authority including major industry players to regulate medication rules, policies, testing and sanctions. Indeed, the elephant in the room that H.R. 1754 would attempt to carry across the finish line is the elimination of raceday medication, legal and otherwise, a policy that would end the use of Lasix in competition. “Instead of giving the animal the rest it needs, a trainer can rely on his/her veterinarian to administer a medication to mask pain by reducing inflammation caused by an injury,” said Chris McCarron. “This bill directly addresses one of the leading causes of breakdowns.” “The bar for effectively detecting and punishing cheaters is so low that it is difficult to fail,” reasoned Joe DeFrancis. “Each trainer knows what they’re being tested for and when they are being tested. There is little if any out-of-competition testing, the kind of testing that has proven so effective in catching athletes who dope in Olympic sports,” DeFrancis concluded. In favor of maintaining the 38-state patchwork with enhancements and modifications, effectively protecting the franchise, was Ed Martin, President of the Association of Racing Commissioners International. “I don’t think this bill as presently written is going to improve the integrity of the sport,” said Martin. “But I think it would improve the integrity of the sport if it were to take [a non-governmental organization and turn it into a multi-jurisdictional investigative organization] to do out-of-competition testing as well as out-of-competition suitability exams that are red-flagged because of their vet records and procedures.” Promises of meaningful enhancements puts lipstick on the same-old pig even if the stricter protocols advanced by Santa Anita’s management group has enjoyed statistical success with improved protocols. And at least the company continues to walk its talk; as the Lasix-less Pegasus Cup proved. The Thoroughbred industry has had decades to police itself and clean up its act. But if it were not for the fact that 37 horses lost their lives last winter at Santa Anita, the raceday medication elephant would remain in a lockbox. After the hearing concluded, the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, comprised of a 14-member majority of leading Thoroughbred stakeholders and racetracks, issued a statement re continuing industry-led advanced safety measures with a promise to enact meaningful change. But the industry has had decades to accomplish these goals. The major group yet to endorse medication reform is the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, who use their veto power to stop simulcasting in its tracks. The final version of HIA must address this roadblock. Absent independent national uniformity, no effort to clean up the game will succeed in a meaningful way. If there’s a segment of horse racing that has reason to embrace the status quo on raceday medication it’s the harness racing industry, which did not get a seat at the table. Indeed, Mike Tanner, Executive Vice-President of the United States Trotting Association, was interviewed but not selected to appear. And the irony is that harness horse owners will pay more than Thoroughbred counterparts to fund the proposed commission established by the possible legislation. With an anticipated $43-45 per-start fee, and with the average Standardbred racing 18 times per year on average, compared to six for Thoroughbreds, it will cost harness owners more. There are other fundamentals to have different rules for different breeds considering the routine way each sport is conducted. Many harness juveniles, e.g., begin their careers without Lasix though they gravitate to it with age. The ARCI, which passed 12 harness specific model-rules amendments last August in Saratoga, acknowledges that separate standards may be appropriate. Statistics indicate that Standardbreds sustain three times the damage of Thoroughbreds in the course of a racing year and can race until age 14. Both breeds train and race with Lasix, but “training miles” are a routine part of maintaining condition in Standardbreds. As in Thoroughbred racing, most violations are a result of therapeutic medication overages. But unlike the crop flap at Santa Anita last season, sanctions for whipping violations and kicking that abuse the animal, as well as dangerous interference infractions have existed. Racetracks in various states for either breed fail to report catastrophic injuries. But the USTA has statistics for both breeds that, according to the California Horse Racing Board database, are eye-opening. A decade’s worth of statistics was compiled from 2009 through 2018. [Thoroughbred starters in 2009 were estimated at 45,000]. During this period all Standardbreds made 83,592 starts at Cal-Expo, compared to 381,531 Thoroughbred starters state-wide. There were 914 Thoroughbred fatalities during this time. While the numbers have improved markedly since, that translates to 2.40 deaths per 1000 starters. The Standardbred ledger shows seven fatalities. In five of the 10 years, there were no fatalities; the mortality rate was 0.08 per 1000 starters. Given that Standardbreds annually race three times more often, raceday medication in harness racing seems to be working as intended, therapeutically. Thoroughbred racing if a different game, of course. “Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good; we need to take action right away,” DeFrancis added. “Every day we delay we’re losing more and more public support, more and more fans, more and more customers. And it’s getting that much more difficult to get them back.” Said HIA co-sponsor Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY): “We’re all in theory talking about the same goals, and yet each of you [who testified against it] opposes the very piece of legislation that would make [uniformity] a reality instead of a tired talking point.”

Columbus, OH - With the upcoming Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Friday (Oct. 25) and Saturday (Oct. 26), the U.S. Trotting Association is partnering with Daily Racing Form to present a wagering educational program called "Learn to Bet Harness." "We are pleased to expand our partnership with Daily Racing Form with this program that will promote our championship day in harness racing and be beneficial to both new fans as well as players who want to improve their handicapping skills," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. On Breeders Crown Saturday, the national print edition of the DRF will feature a special "Learn to Bet Harness" section that will examine all aspects of handicapping harness races with best practices from industry experts and tips from some of the best handicappers in the country. The special section will be seen by horse players across North America. "People often say horse racing is too difficult for new people to learn by themselves. That's nonsense. People simply need the tools," said DRF Harness Editor Derick Giwner. "If I can Google how to change an electrical outlet or build an extension to my house, I should be able to find meaningful information on how to handicap harness racing. "The 'Learn to Bet Harness' insert coupled with the video series will go a long way toward furthering the mission of increasing our sport's exposure to a wider audience," added Giwner. "With the reach of DRF and USTA through digital, print and social media, this could truly move the needle in terms of education for the general public as well as Thoroughbred players who may have been hesitant to cross over." The special section will include Giwner's step-by-step guide on betting harness racing, Breeders Crown content and some general handicapping tips. It will also provide an analysis of the similarities and differences between harness racing and Thoroughbred racing past performances and handicapping in order to help promote crossover play by Thoroughbred bettors and educate players with the potential to increase their level of wagering to include the Breeders Crown races and on harness racing in general. In addition, the "Learn to Bet Harness" program will feature a series of five videos hosted by Giwner with expert DRF handicappers Matt Rose and Dan Illman as well as the USTA's Michael Carter. The video series will provide basic harness handicapping tips that will be hosted on both www.DRF.com and www.HarnessRacingFanZone.com. Some of those strategies will include considerations of drivers, trainers, track size and trip handicapping in determining how to bet harness races. The "Learn to Bet Harness" program will be promoted on social media leading up to the Breeders Crown on both DRF and USTA social media platforms. From the USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH -- The U.S. Trotting Association announced the launch of a "NewLook" website that invites members, industry participants and fans of harness racing an all-new way to provide feedback on the organization's redesign of its website on Monday (March 18). A landing page for all information about the redesign project, http://NewLook.ustrotting.com is the place where USTA website users will be able to provide feedback on specific functionality and features that currently exist or that they would like to see included during the planning phase of the website's redesign. "The USTA web redesign team is seeking input on elements of the current website and the new website, as it is developed so that feedback can provide ways to improve the user experience," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. In addition, the NewLook website will allow the public to view updates about the design work as it progresses and the ability to interact with the USTA in order to give feedback on the concepts and design elements prior to the release of the new website. Visitors will be invited to participate in a survey to indicate whether they were able to achieve their goals and if they were satisfied with the amount of effort required to accomplish those, rate areas that need improvement and compare the USTA website to other websites that they visit. Other areas of interest are opinions on the ease of navigation and what additional information users would like added to the new site. At first, the survey will be available only to users that already have or sign up for a USTA myaccount, who simply need to sign in and navigate to "NewLook" to take the survey. Later, it also will be available to guests without a login. In addition, visitors will be offered the opportunity to sign up in order to participate in focus groups to add further input on the website's redesign. The NewLook website was unveiled in a demonstration to the USTA directors at a special IT Education working session at the Annual Meeting last Saturday (March 9) in Columbus, OH. The NewLook page will also include a help option for additional information. From the USTA Communications Department

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by the USTA/BetAmerica, is excited to announce the line-up for Thursday morning (Feb. 7) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Mike Tanner, CEO of the USTA; Louis Philippe-Roy, regular driver of Jimmy Freight; regular contributor Garnet Barnsdale, and Scott Lecain, groom for Mark Steacy. Tanner, CEO of the USTA, will join to talk about a multitude of items, including the upcoming Board of Directors meeting in March. Tanner will also discuss some of the advocacy efforts going on in Washington, DC and will discuss the happenings of the Standardbred Transition Alliance. Roy, the regular driver of Jimmy Frieght, joins to discuss the champion three-year-olds most recent victory in the O'Brien Awards in Canada. Roy had a big season himself, the pair will also talk about his Super Bowl winning New England Patriots. Regular contributor Garnet Barnsdale will stop by to discuss his reaction from the 2019 O'Brien awards that were held this past weekend. Barnsdale covered many events for Mike & Mike and will highlight some of the night's most distinguished stars. Lecain, a groom for trainer Mark Steacy, discusses how he felt going into the burning First Line Training Center in Canada to help rescue horses that were trapped. Lecain was one of the first people in the barn following the start of the fire, in which 35 out of the 40 horses were rescued. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by USTA/BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website www.posttimewithmikeandmike.com or on the archive at www.betamerica.com/BARN. by Michael Carter, for the Mike & Mike Show  

Columbus, OH --- The U.S. Trotting Association and Northfield Park are pleased to announce that they have reached a settlement of the dispute between the two parties that began in June 2017. "We've very pleased with the outcome and look forward to a renewed and improved relationship with Northfield Park," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. Northfield Park's membership has been reinstated and the track's director restored to the USTA Board of Directors. In addition, the track is able to participate in the USTA Strategic Wagering Program, is eligible for co-advertising opportunities and has all Pathway account access returned. Additionally, the USTA already has begun to post on its website press releases from Northfield Park that serve to publicize the track and its racing. "We are excited along with our fans and horsemen to once again be working with the USTA and all the great initiatives that they provide," commented Northfield Park's Vice President and General Manager Brent Reitz. Northfield Park has also agreed to make a charitable donation before the end of the year to the newly formed Standardbred Transition Alliance, which is an industry-wide group created to accredit programs serving Standardbreds seeking placement outside traditional commercial uses and also serves as a conduit for partial funding to those groups. From the USTA Communications Department  

Columbus, OH --- A group of 13 people, representing a variety of sectors in the industry, has been assembled to lead the development of the Standardbred Transition Alliance (STA). The STA will accredit programs serving Standardbreds seeking placement outside traditional commercial uses and also serve as a conduit for partial funding to those groups. The group has filed articles of incorporation and is registered as a charity with the state of Ohio; documents have also been submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to file as a 501(c)(3)charitable entity. The STA will operate independently of the United States Trotting Association, though the USTA will provide operational support and will have an ex officio spot on the board. The USTA Board of Directors in March directed Chief Executive Officer Mike Tanner, with assistance from a steering committee comprised of Directors Don Marean, Jacqueline Ingrassia and Fred Nichols, to form the group. The STA will not directly care for horses, but will accredit and provide some funding for groups that meet accreditation standards. It will be modeled after the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, which provides financial assistance to about 60 groups annually. "It is past time that we have a pervasive and proportional system to provide some support to groups helping our horses when they are no longer viable on the racetrack or as bloodstock," said USTA President Russell Williams. "We have many horse owners that provide for their horses for all of their lives, but that is not an option for every person or every horse. We owe the horses that provide our living and enjoyment a coordinated effort to give them a secure future off the track. The STA will support that goal." The STA Board will convene for the first time in early November. The USTA Executive Committee is expected to consider and vote on actions to provide some funding for them at their November meeting. For questions and comments about the STA, email STA@ustrotting.com. The members of the STA Board are: Bill Abdelnour, horse owner and president of the New England Amateur Drivers Association Elizabeth Caldwell, owner and manager of Cane Run Farm, Kentucky Michelle Crawford, breeder and owner of Crawford Farm, New York Moira Fanning, chief operating officer of the Hambletonian Society Dr. Donna Franchetti, horse owner and veterinarian Kevin Greenfield, breeder and president of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association Dr. Patricia Hogan, horse owner, breeder and veterinarian Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, horse owner and veterinarian, manager of Hanover Shoe Farm Rick Moore, vice president and general manager of racing at Hoosier Park David Reid, owner of Preferred Equine Marketing Mitchel Skolnick, breeder and partner in Bluestone Farm Kelly Young, executive director of the New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund From the USTA Communications Department

USTA Executive Vice President Mike Tanner has been awarded the Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year award by Harness Horseman International. Tanner, 49, has been the helm of the USTA since late 2008, the youngest person at the time to fill that position.   The New Jersey native was first introduced to racing when visiting Liberty Bell Park in the mid-1970s, and spent time as a groom and hot walker at Philadelphia Park and Garden State Park. After graduating from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1988 and Bowling Green University in 1991, Tanner began his professional career as a Ladbroke's Detroit Race Course publicist in 1992.   Tanner has also served as director of marketing, media, and simulcasting, as assistant to the president, and as director of communications at Gulfstream Park from 1993-2005, and also worked for the Breeders' Cup, from 2001 through 2003.   In 2002, Tanner was a member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Technology Group's Communications Task Force and in 2005 was director of racing operations at Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack, in Chester, Pa. He and his wife Gail have two sons.   Ron Battoni, who recently retired as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, is honored with the HHI Appreciation Award. Battoni managed the PHHA's day-to-day operations including contract negotiations, government relations, interfacing with the state commission and track officials and overseeing the PHHA staff. The former horseman has been active in racing for more than four decades, and will continue to assist the PHHA in a reduced capacity for three to five years. During his tenure as a driver-trainer, from 1977 to 1987, he scored 394 wins and $760,738 in purse monies. Battoni joined the PHHA in 1987 and helped lead it through a number of positive changes in including full-card simulcasting of out-of-state racetracks in the 1990s. .He also worked to implement the passage of the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act in 2004 which brought slot machines to Pennsylvania tracks and oversaw the development and opening of Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in 2007.   Writer Ken Weingartner is HHI's Clyde Hirt Media Award winner for this year. As the USTA's Media Relations Manager, Weingartner has already earned numerous journalistic accolades, including the Phil Pines Award recently bestowed upon him from the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the US Harness Writer's Association on Nov. 16, 2015. He also has awards from the New Jersey Press Association and the College Sports Information Directors of America.   Weingartner, who is in his 13th year with the USTA, is a central New Jersey native who got interested in harness racing via his father, who took him to Freehold Raceway as a child. After stints at the Williamsport Sun-Gazette and Allentown Messenger-Press, Weingartner joined the USTA in 2002. He won the Golden Pen Award from the Standardbred Marketing and Media Association in 2007.   All three gentlemen will be feted at the HHI Annual Awards Banquet at the Embassy Suites Resort, Deerfield Beach, Florida on Wednesday, March 9, 2016.   Harness Horsemen International 319 High St. Suite 2 Burlington, NJ 08016 (609) 747-1000    

Columbus, OH --- USTA President Phil Langley, accompanied by Executive Vice President Mike Tanner, presented the USTA’s position on a number of medication issues to the Ohio State Racing Commission at their monthly meeting on Monday afternoon (March 30) at the Riffe Center in Columbus, Ohio. At the previous commission meeting on Feb. 21, Chairman Robert K. Schmitz invited representatives of the U.S. Trotting Association, national and state branches of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, and the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association to address the commission. Langley focused on the need for uniform but separate medication rules for the different breeds, the use of therapeutic medications and USTA research on cobalt. He emphasized that in harness racing, the horses race much more often than Thoroughbreds and that harness racing doesn’t have the same problems with breakdowns. “The USTA strongly believes in uniform medication rules,” said Langley. “But we believe in uniform rules for harness racing and uniform rules for Thoroughbreds, but different rules. The way we race is not compatible with the way they race. We would like the rules to reflect the harness use, not the Thoroughbred use. “Recently, Ed Martin from RCI (Association of Racing Commissioners International) has indicated that they have no problem with separate rules.” Langley discussed a USTA-funded research study on cobalt conducted by Dr. George Maylin from the New York Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College with assistance from Director Dr. Karyn Malinowski and Associate Director Dr. Ken McKeever from the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University. He informed the commissioners that the USTA is planning a new study with that team of equine experts. “Now we going to commission a new study with Drs. Maylin, Malinowski and McKeever to see exactly what cobalt does to horses,” said Langley. “One of the challenges is that the scientists have to figure out how to test horses that are racing.” When asked by Chairman Schmitz for the reason that the USTA resigned from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium in September 2013, Langley cited the USTA’s $100,000 annual contribution being made to an organization that refused to consider harness racing’s issues. “Our money could be used better for studies on harness racing than for funding the RMTC who were not considering harness racing,” explained Langley. The Ohio State Racing Commission is collecting information prior to consideration of model medication rules proposed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The commissioners heard presentations by RCI President Edward J. Martin and Dr. Dionne Benson, executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, at their February meeting. According to Chairman Schmitz, the commission will invite veterinarians and scientists to present in the next two months. USTA Communications Department 

Columbus, OH --- The Harness Racing Social Ambassador Program, launched in Q4 2013 to help industry advocates spread the word about harness racing through social media, today announced that it has expanded its capabilities and mission to become the industry's first-ever consumer-rewards program. The new enhancements make the platform easier-to-use for even novice social media users while adding a more sophisticated point and tracking system to better support new and current fans, participating tracks and industry sponsors. "After testing the initial program with key industry Ambassadors and collecting valuable feedback and insight, we're excited to now take the program to the next level and open it up to a wider range of potential participants," said Rob Key, CEO of Converseon, which is helping to spearhead the initiative in partnership with the USTA. "While it was always the plan to eventually evolve the program into a broader consumer rewards initiative, we decided to accelerate it so that we could leverage and scale it more effectively this year, including to better support the industry's TV initiative. "The first phase was designed to bring in our most important advocates and we thank them for their participation; while this next phase is about opening the program up to all of our current and potential fans." He notes that the platform is also being utilized by select other major league sports and clubs, like the Los Angeles Dodgers. Currently, there are more than 70 Ambassadors in the program whose efforts have reached more than 200,000 current and potential fans through harness racing related conversations across social media. The new features are designed to accommodate tens of thousands of current and new fans and provide enhanced tracking capabilities that allow consumers to be rewarded not only for spreading the word through social media, but also for a wide range of other desired actions, such as watching the sport on television, checking in at a racetrack, purchasing items from a store, participating in contests and even supporting industry sponsors. The platform also presents an opportunity for harness racetracks, venues and industry events to integrate "point-of-purchase" systems as an added benefit to better provide support for attendance and participation. It creates the possibility that participating tracks could allow consumers to earn or redeem points and receive rewards at their locations. These rewards can range from free drinks or dinner, to magazine subscriptions, industry "swag" and more personal behind-the-scenes, "VIP-type" experiences. Converseon says that while initial rewards are limited, it is beginning outreach to key constituents to provide them an opportunity to participate and drive greater visibility, awareness, engagement and attendance. Tracks and other related industry groups are all invited to participate and participation is completely voluntary. "The program is a powerful way to achieve several key objectives," said Mike Tanner, Executive Vice President and CEO of the USTA. "It inspires consumers to help spread the word through social media about our sport; incentivizes them to tune into key events (whether on television, online or in person); and provides us a mechanism to reward them in a highly-compelling way for their support and loyalty while enhancing the overall consumer experience of the sport. With the enhanced tracking, we will also now be able to even better support tracks that want to participate as well as potential sponsors, which will become increasingly important as harness racing scales out its marketing efforts." The Ambassador program is fully integrated with the www.harnessracingfanzone.com which is designed to be a central content hub for current and new fans to show them the "best of" the sport of harness racing. To sign up for the program, please visit www.harnessracingfanzone.com or www.harnessracingambassadors.com. Interested tracks and other industry constituents can contact Rob Key directly at rkey@converseon.com. About the Harness Racing Social Media Initiative Launched in September 2013, the Harness Racing Social Media Initiative is a partnership between the United States Trotting Association, the social media consultancy, Converseon, and key industry groups to help drive marketing innovation and engagement with current and new fans for the sport. The initiative's mission is to help support key racetracks, industry groups and help provide foundational support and a common, "best practice" framework by leveraging social technologies and platforms and strategies to help positively brand the sport of harness racing and generate greater awareness, visibility and engagement with a new generation of fans. From the USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH --- The U.S. Trotting Association announced Friday that they have reached agreement with the Little Brown Jug to assist financially in funding the broadcast of the race on Sept. 18. The USTA has agreed to contribute substantial funding to help offset the costs of production and air time. "Since the initial proposal made by the Meadowlands and Little Brown Jug, the Little Brown Jug came back with some revisions and suggestions that address many of the concerns that the USTA Executive Committee had with the original funding request," said USTA President Phil Langley. "Mike Tanner, Rob Key and Dan Leary have worked diligently with Sam McKee and Phil Terry during this past week and I think we now have a proposal worthy of our support." The Little Brown Jug principals have clarified the role of the race's main sponsor and their intent to cross promote the race and harness racing through their retail and social media outlets to complement the social media capabilities of the USTA that were a key component in the sponsor's interest in this proposal. "We appreciate this opportunity to be involved with the Little Brown Jug," said Fazoli's Director of Marketing Jon Quinn. "It's a nice match and excellent for the Fazoli's brand." "It appears that this is all coming together," said Little Brown Jug Director of Marketing Phil Terry. "We are pleased that everyone is working together to permit the Jug to be broadcast this fall and excited about the promotions, social media aspect and contest that will support it. In addition, the Little Brown Jug has also secured additional funding. "We appreciate this funding from the USTA to go along with the support from our primary sponsor and the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association as well as all of the work from Sam McKee in coordinating this effort," added Terry. With the additional clarification from the Little Brown Jug representatives that demonstrated this is the more comprehensive approach that the Executive Committee sought, the members now enthusiastically endorse this commitment to the Little Brown Jug. "I'd like to thank all of the members of the Executive Committee whose response has been so overwhelmingly positive," said Langley. "With just under five months left before the Jug takes place, these cooperative efforts have a chance to do many of the things the Executive Committee suggested last week." The final details of the contract for the broadcast and the possible acquisition of additional sponsors and advertisers are still pending. "Our contribution will give them the wherewithal to finalize their plans," added Langley. Final details will be announced when they become available. by Dan Leary, for the USTA

Columbus, OH --- The 2014 USTA annual meetings are scheduled for Sunday (March 30) and Monday (March 31) at the Hilton Columbus at Easton in Columbus, Ohio. Following Rules and Executive Committee meetings in the morning on Sunday, the Board of Directors general session, which will be streamed live on the USTA website (www.ustrotting.com), will begin at 12:30 p.m. (EDT). Keynote speaker for the general session will be Ohio State Racing Commission Chairman Robert Schmitz. Among the topics on the agenda are: the introduction of new USTA directors, proclamations and recognition of former directors, an election of officers, the president’s report from Phil Langley and executive vice president’s report from Mike Tanner, a financial report, presentation/vote on revised bylaws, and rule change proposals. The final item on the general session agenda will include a discussion of medication rules and a presentation on harness racing’s social media initiative by Rob Key, CEO of Converseon, the USTA’s social media marketing agency. Meetings are scheduled Sunday afternoon and Monday morning involving the following committees: Fairs, Pari-Mutuel, Regulatory, and Registration-Owners/Breeders on Sunday and Driver/Trainer, Finance, Rules and Communications/Marketing on Monday. The President’s Awards luncheon honoring 2014 recipients Bob Carson and Gabe Wand will be held on Sunday at 11:45 a.m. The 2014 USTA annual meetings will conclude with a general session commencing at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on Monday that will include committee reports, ad hoc committee assignments, approval of the budget, and announcement of the location and dates for the 2015 annual meetings. All USTA members are welcome to attend the meetings with the exception of the Executive Committee, which is limited to committee members only. Visit www.ustrotting.com for the live video stream of Sunday’s Board of Director’s general session from 12:30–3 p.m. (EDT) as well as daily recaps of the important news from the meetings. From the USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH -- To help drive greater awareness of and engagement with the sport of harness racing to current and new fans, the United States Trotting Association ("USTA"), in partnership with social consultancy, Converseon and key industry constituents, have officially launched a new socially powered, consumer-facing website, The Harness Racing Fan Zone (www.HarnessRacingFanZone.com). The Harness Racing Fan Zone is an innovative new, online content hub designed for current and potential new fans and owners to "see, share, connect and play" through the power of social media. The mission of the Fan Zone is not to replace current industry websites or marketing initiatives but to serve as a key central platform that will help unify, amplify and positively brand the sport. "The Fan Zone is designed to meet the increasing demands and expectations of a new generation of digitally and socially-savvy consumers who have grown accustomed to key features that let them become not just spectators to a particular sport, but active digital participants," said Mike Tanner, USTA executive vice president and CEO. "The Fan Zone now provides harness racing with a new 'major league' consumer experience that fully leverages social media for fans, potential fans, owners and sponsors. We expect this to be a key resource for racetracks, large and small, and other related groups to better amplify and support their marketing efforts." Select key features include:  Allows fans to deeply engage with the sport via social media functionality, videos, photos, plugins and more.  Interconnects with other key social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Vimeo, YouTube, Vine, Instagram and more to help create a more comprehensive Fan Zone presence for the sport. Provides pages for individual tracks and industry groups to be profiled. Aggregates and promotes all industry/track promotions in one place so they are easy to find and participate in. The Fan Zone's first promotion is its recently launched 100 Top Moments in Harness Racing. Click here. Shows real time conversations about the sport so that fans can listen, share or join in. Celebrates the owners, fans, and horseman involved in the sport and helps show fans the personalities and stories behind the names. Provides a place for socially-active fans to sign up and become part of the sport's Ambassador Program. Via the Ambassador Program, fans can win rewards, visibility, and points for helping to spread the word about the sport. Provides key marketing and sponsorship support assets for sponsors Allows fans to upload their photos/videos and stories to be featured in the Fan Zone About the USTA The United States Trotting Association, located in Columbus, Ohio, is a not-for-profit association of Standardbred owners, breeders, drivers, trainers, and officials organized to provide administrative, rulemaking, licensing and breed registry services to its members. For more information on the USTA, please visit www.ustrotting.com. About the Harness Racing Social Media Initiative Launched in September, 2013, the Harness Racing Social Media Initiative is a partnership between the United States Trotting Association, the social media consultancy, Converseon, and key industry groups to help drive marketing innovation and engagement with current and new fans for the sport. The initiative's mission is to help support key racetracks, industry groups and help provide foundational support and a common, "best practice" framework by leveraging social technologies and platforms and strategies to help positively brand the sport of harness racing and generate greater awareness, visibility and engagement with a new generation of fans. by Dan Leary, for USTA Communications Department  

Columbus, OH --- History will be made on Saturday night (March 22) when Shark Fantasy competes in the seventh race at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Not because the 4-year-old pacer, co-owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Frank Baldachino, is trying for his third straight win, but because he will be the first horse ever in racing history to have been entered into a race electronically. With the USTA's new, online entry program, harness racing becomes the first of the racing breeds to have the capability to enter horses electronically. It allows trainers to enter their horses via the internet from computers or mobile devices days ahead of the current system. Shark Fantasy was the first of 15 electronic entries made for races Saturday at Pocono Downs by Ron Burke, the 2013 Trainer of the Year. The online entry project was spearheaded by T.C. Lane, the USTA's director of registry and member services, and Sherry Antion-Mohr, USTA director of information technology. "Trainers can now map out their racing schedules at their own leisure, a week or more in advance," said Lane. "It also makes things much easier for race secretaries at the tracks." Trainers can start to enter horses electronically as soon as the condition sheet is made available from the race office, typically seven to 10 days before the races. The system is currently in the beta testing phase at six racetracks - Balmoral Park, Dover Downs, Maywood Park, The Meadows, Northfield Park and Pocono Downs. Among the many trainers involved in the early testing are Ron Burke, Mark Ford, Homer Hochstetler, Julie Miller, Virgil Morgan and Jimmy Takter. The list of racetracks and trainers is growing every day during the test period and there have been rave reviews from those utilizing the system. "What I really like is the convenience," said trainer Julie Miller. "I set the timetable of when I want to look up my horses, what tracks they fit, what conditions they fit and to be able to submit it online is going to be really a key advantage that I know my horses are entered and I know I've done my homework properly. "What it really is going to do is allow me to come in and focus on my horses because I won't have to focus on office work from 7:30 in the morning until noon," added Miller. Peter Koch, race secretary at Meadowlands Racetrack, said he is looking forward to the project's rollout after being introduced to the new system at the race secretaries' meeting in December 2013. "Most tracks are in the situation without a barn area so everybody is calling in entries now," explained Koch. "If that is alleviated some, it will clearly let us do some other things in the morning to get ready for the draw. "Basically, anybody who races here is racing at multiple tracks," added Koch. "So if you are racing at multiple tracks and they have different draw times, it's really going to be beneficial to people to be able to enter all of their horses at one time on the internet and then make adjustments as the week goes along." The system will be fully operational beginning in April. "Mike Tanner, the USTA's executive vice president, told our board of directors last year that we would have an online entry system ready by this year's meeting at the end of March, so we went to work," said Lane. by Dan Leary for the USTA

Columbus, OH --- In celebration of the rich history of harness racing, the United States Trotting Association, in partnership with the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, announced today the launch of the “Top 100 Moments in Harness Racing” contest. The contest will allow fans from around the world to upload and share their favorite personal harness racing moments for industry recognition and a chance to be become part of the sport’s history. The winning top moments will be celebrated in a special exhibit at the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y. The contest, which starts on Tuesday (March 18) at 9 a.m. (EDT), is accessible at Facebook.com/OfficialHarnessRacingFanZone and leverages Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, together with the new Harness Racing Fan Zone (www.harnessracingfanzone.com). The Fan Zone is an exciting, new social media-oriented content hub that allows fans, new and old, a place to “See, Share, Engage and Play” with the best of the sport and interconnects with other key industry digital properties. Using a crowd-sourcing approach, the contest, which ends June 15 at 9 p.m. (EDT), allows participants to upload, display and share their photos, videos, stories and memories and enables fans to vote for their favorites. Entries will be divided in the following categories: Horses, People, Races, Places, as well as a special “Heart” category designed to celebrate some of the personal stories that exhibit extraordinary determination and courage. Voting will be split between fans and a five-person judging committee consisting of a representative from the USTA, the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, the Hambletonian Society, United States Harness Writers Association and sport historian Dean Hoffman. The committee will oversee final judging. “Social media provides us with a powerful new and innovative platform to drive forward our core mission of collecting, preserving and sharing the incredibly rich history of Harness Racing,” said Janet Terhune, Director of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. “Through this exciting digital initiative, fans can become key contributors by sharing their stories and helping us pass our history to a new generation of fans. We encourage everyone to participate as we hope to uncover new stories, photos and moments that have not yet been archived or recognized. No story is too big or too small.” “The USTA is proud to support this initiative through our growing social media presence, which is allowing the industry to partner together and connect with current and potential fans in new and compelling ways,” said Mike Tanner, Executive Vice President and CEO of the USTA. “The sport of harness racing has a history second-to-none,” said Rob Key, CEO of Converseon. “Yet some of our greatest moments are hidden away in drawers and attics. This contest allows participants to dig through their archives, dust off their memories and share their stories in a new and exciting way. This is a chance to celebrate those moments, and become part of the history at one of the sport’s greatest jewels, the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame.” About the Harness Racing Museum The Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame, founded in 1951, is located in the historic village of Goshen, N.Y., known as “The Cradle of the Trotter” for its origins in the sport of harness racing, which was America’s first national pastime. More than 20,000 visitors each year enjoy the many examples of local, state, national and international history and art preserved by the museum along with artifacts dating from harness racing’s beginnings to modern times and hands-on interactive exhibits, including a 3-D harness racing simulator. The museum also maintains an extensive research library of books, videos and industry periodicals documenting the great sport of harness racing. Serving as the Hall of Fame for the sport, the museum honors each inductee with a unique portrait sculpture and highlights each member’s illustrious career in informational interactives. About the Harness Racing Social Media Initiative Launched in September 2013, the Harness Racing Social Media Initiative is a partnership between the United States Trotting Association, the social media consultancy, Converseon, and key industry groups to help drive marketing innovation and engagement with current and new fans for the sport. The initiative’s mission is to help support key racetracks, industry groups and help provide foundational support and a common, “best practice” framework by leveraging social technologies and platforms and strategies to help positively brand the sport of harness racing and generate greater awareness, visibility and engagement with a new generation of fans. Key foundational elements of the initiative to date include the Harness Racing Ambassador Program and the newly-launched www.harnessracingfanzone.com. From the USTA

Hinsdale, IL --- The Mike Brink Stable’s King Mufasa, who dominated last season’s 3-year-old ICF colt and gelding trotting division, was named the 2013 Illinois Horse of the Year at last Saturday’s USTA District 5 awards banquet in Springfield. The son of Powerful Emotion, out of the Muscles Yankee mare Foxy N Diamonds, joined Brink after a modest 2-year-old campaign where he won two of eight starts and banked under $10,000 for owners H H Wright and Mystical Marker Farms. King Mufasa was absolutely sensational under the care of Brink, winning every major Illinois bred stake -- including the $50,800 Cardinal, the $51,000 Kadabra, both State Fair crowns at Springfield and Du Quoin and the $124,000 Su Mac Lad on Super Night -- along with open added money triumphs in Balmoral Park’s $37,000 Hanover and the $31,000 Circle City at Hoosier Park. At one time King Mufasa rattled off 12 consecutive victories when he earned $238,590 racing out of Brink’s barn. And to the surprise of many, the ICF star wasn’t sold out east after his huge season and will be back to campaign in Illinois and Indiana in 2014. “His owners like him so well that they didn’t want to put him in a sale. They’re letting me race him in the Midwest for another year,” said Brink, who turned 61 earlier this month. The veteran Springfield based conditioner concluded his most successful year in 2013 with career highs in winners (68) and money earned ($717,414) from his barn. King Mufasa was also voted the Illinois 3-year-old champion male trotter. Other sophomore division winners honored at the banquet were Mystical Walter (1:50, $195,259) as the male pacer for owners Paymaq Racing, D & M Trading of Illinois and Mystical Marker Farms; Auniqueaquistion (1:52.2, $249,235), owned by John Carver and Dandy Farms Inc., as the pacing filly; and Trot Fudge Sundae as the top trotting filly for the Illinois trio of James Bafia, Gene White and Sam Daddono. The 2013 ICF freshmen divisional champions were PQ Three (1:50, $111,899), owned by Obermeier & Quaid Stables as the male pacer; Thesleazyprincess (1:54, $159,615), owned and bred by the Marty Engel Stable of Illinois as the filly pacer; Jerry’s Graham’s Photo Surprise (1:57, $96,825) as the male trotter; and Bailey’s Wish (1:59, $112,710), co-owned by Illinoisans James Bafia and Gene White, as the top filly trotter. John Prentice and Neva Jane Ikeler’s Fort Silky (1:49.3, $269,075) took ICF older horse pacer honors. Jesse De Long’s Let’s Go Higher (1:50.3, $198,236) was the older mare pacing winner. Randall Bendis’ Zumba Mouse (1:54, $103,474) was best among the older trotting mares and Run And Tell Pap (1:53.2, $126,510) took the top spot for older trotting horses for owners Burke Racing LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC. The state’s 2013 champion pacing stallion was Yankee Skyscaper while Powerful Emotion was named the trotting stallion division titleholder. Shesoluvabull was voted the champion pacing broodmare for a second consecutive year while Just Having Fin took that honor in the trotting broodmare division. District 5 Director and Chairman Sam Lilly was the Master of Ceremonies at the well-attended banquet and dinner where USTA Executive Vice-President Mike Tanner was a special guest. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA

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