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April 10, 2019, from the USTA Communications Department Columbus, OH - The U.S. Trotting Association announced Wednesday (April 10) that T.C. Lane has been promoted to the newly-created position of chief operating officer. In his new role, Lane will work to optimize the Association's operating capabilities, oversee internal project development, and employ strategies to maximize member satisfaction. He will report directly to USTA Executive Vice President/CEO Mike Tanner and will continue in his role as the USTA's registrar. "Elevating T.C. into this newly-created position is a natural fit because he is a guy that gets things done," said Tanner. "His knowledge of the Association and its protocols will serve him well, as will his track record of having greatly advanced our operating practices in the Registry and Member Services. "T.C. is highly respected, both inside the USTA and throughout the industry, and has earned the promotion," added Tanner. "With his leadership, we'll be a stronger and more efficient organization." Lane joined the USTA as its director of officials in 2002 following a stint with the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association, where he was the representative to Ohio's county fairs. At the USTA, Lane has served as registrar and director of member services, duties that include supervision of the Race Track Support department, which provides 24/7 service to all pari-mutuel and fair tracks in the country, the coordination of an 11-person ID technician team, and direction of the Information/Research department. He also led, along with Sherry Antion-Mohr, the USTA's director of information technology, the development of the USTA Online Entry platform, which currently processes approximately 90 percent of the sport's entries each year. More recently, Lane oversaw the creation and implementation of the USTA's microchipping program and the release of an app to utilize with the program. Lane is a graduate of The Ohio State University, where he majored in agricultural economics and minored in equine science.   Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association  

To The Editor; We have what is commonly known as a horse shortage in harness racing, which is really just an imbalance based on number of race days a racetrack would like to run a year and the horses available for those tasks. Obviously, the Southern Hemisphere loves this since many of the horse's names end with an A or an N. But I am not telling you anything you don't already know. One partial solution to the horse shortage is to allow broodmares to have two foals a year. Originally nature didn't allow for that but due to technology this can now be accomplished with embryo transplant (ET). The first result is obvious that we would have more foals a year. It would also be a safety net for the breeders since they might not get quite the same price as they would for one foal if it was perfect, but how many foals are really born perfect? This does not take account of the double digits of mares that are barren or miscarry per year. This gives two chances and makes the breeding portion safer. It also would allow stallions to breed more making it more economic for stallion owners. It also would not hurt the genetic pool since the rule would only allow mares to be bred to one stallion per year so, the ratios of genetic diversity would basically remain the same. I would submit this new rule as a five-year experiment since nobody likes change and this will give the feel and the reality of it being temporary so it could be evaluated in the future. But the best byproduct is that the rule would state that all the ET's would have to be done with only Standardbred recipients. This would help possibly 1000 mares that are up for adoption and looking for homes so they don't end up in the slaughterhouse and to have a role going forward. Due to the expensive nature of performing ET this rule would allow the gene pool to breed more of the top mares since it would not be economically feasible to do it with every run-of-the-mill female that retired. If anyone reading this has any further ideas or enhancements or criticisms, I would like to address them now before I send this rule change in play in August when the changes are due. Eric Cherry  

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, 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

Columbus, OH - Following the U.S. Trotting Association's 2019 Board of Directors Annual Meeting held March 8-11 in Columbus, OH, the USTA's Call to Action Subcommittee issued the following announcement regarding the issue of harness racing hidden trainers on Thursday (March 14). At the Call to Action Subcommittee meeting on Friday night (March 8) the committee updated their plan regarding the initiative to prohibit hidden trainers from continuing to ply their unethical trade by using program trainers (commonly referred to as "beard" trainers) when that hidden trainer is banned from being licensed or has been suspended. "The essence of the beard trainer problem is that trainers currently under suspension or whose license has been denied are conducting business as usual, they are making a mockery out of the industry," said Call to Action Committee Chairman Mark Loewe. "Currently, we have to rely on the state regulators and licensing is their only tool to combat this problem." "It is important to note that beard trainers are cooperating in a scheme to defraud the regulators and the public, so they are also culpable," added Loewe. USTA Director and Subcommittee member Joe Faraldo previously presented the concept of "regulatory discovery" to end this unethical practice. Essentially, regulatory discovery requires suspected beard trainers to provide a series of documents to regulators, who could examine the flow of money and other communication to ascertain they are just acting as a shill for the hidden, unlicensed trainer. If so, the beard trainer would also be suspended or have his or her license application rejected. "It is important to note that this process is not expensive for the regulators because it requires no additional detectives or other investigatory expense" explained USTA President Russell Williams. "And it should also be noted that it is very likely that it won't be necessary to get every commission to adopt regulatory discovery or to catch every beard trainer. A few prosecutions will go a long way," added Williams. The USTA first presented the regulatory discovery concept at Association of Racing Commissioners International meetings in Omaha, NE last July, and will pursue it to a conclusion. As a result, the proposal was assigned to an ARCI subcommittee for further consideration. The committee determined that they will submit it again for discussion at the ARCI meeting scheduled for August 8-10 in Saratoga Springs, NY. The USTA is also prepared to take the concept directly to regulators, track operators and horsemen's organizations. In fact, Faraldo indicated that the policy has already been implemented at Yonkers Raceway, where he is the president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York. At this year's Call to Action Subcommittee meeting, the committee drafted three proposals regarding guidelines for regulatory discovery to be distributed to racing commissions, racetracks, and horsemen's associations, respectively. In addition, the USTA is also looking at its own licensing and membership structure to determine whether it can act as an association to implement regulatory discovery. Ken Weingartner

Columbus, OH — One of the primary themes of the 2019 U.S. Trotting Association’s (USTA) Board of Director’s Annual Meeting has been the importance of the use of technology. In Sunday’s (March 10) opening general session, USTA President Russell Williams’ pre-recorded TED talk-style presentation utilizing green room technology with an impressive array of video, photos and graphics was the highlight of the day. Williams began by giving a brief historical perspective on the organization’s business model, how it compiled the rules of harness racing and grew to be able to accommodate the large amount of data that pari-mutuel wagering generated. He discussed the difference between “action” based gaming, like slots, and “decision” based gambling, like handicapping, and noted that some decision-based games have wide exposure online. Even though online gamers and horseplayers enjoy similar forms of decision-based play, online gamers do not come to racetracks to seek recreation,” said Williams. “They must be reached online and presented with racing-based products that will attract them. “As an industry, we should determine the characteristics of these games that attract internet consumers and emulate those characteristics in new racing-based products that can be offered on the internet. That’s where our future horseplayers and fans reside. To find them, we will have to use marketing.” Williams explained that shifting to a marketing orientation would fit well with the USTA business model but posed the question to the directors whether the organization needs to do more. “Does the USTA have a role to play as a center for planning a unified strategic effort that would attain these goals?” he asked. He cited the wealth of talent and experience on the USTA Board of Directors and called on them to work together cooperatively to maximize the benefit of all that talent. Williams concluded by urging the board to address the issues facing harness racing with a unified approach. “All we have to do is check our competitive tendencies at the front desk, and cooperate in using the USTA’s time-honored business model,” Williams explained. “Identify a significant need within the industry, assemble best practices for addressing that need, formulate a plan at the association level, and execute the plan industry-wide. If we use these skills to adapt to changes that are inevitable, we will survive and prosper.” Also during the session, USTA Chairman Ivan Axelrod emphasized the need to attract more interest in wagering on harness racing, especially with all of the ongoing changes in gaming and sports betting, that would, in turn, result in bringing more owners into the sport. “We need to attract more gamblers as a way to attract new owners,” he said. “That’s how I became an owner. Axelrod also noted the trends of increasing purses and smaller fields, and explained that while this allows racing participants to race for more money, the sport is losing bettors due to the lack of value in mutuel payouts. He urged directors to be leaders, to encourage tracks in their districts to put on a better show and to find out what their customers want. USTA Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner yielded most of his time to USTA Vice Chairman Don Marean from District 9, who gave a detailed account of how he worked in his role as a legislator to defeat legislation that would have revised the law to divert significant funds away from the harness racing industry in Maine. Subcommittee reports were given by directors Steve McCoy (Board Protocol), Joe Faraldo (Harness Racing Medication Collaborative), Mark Loewe (Call to Action) and Gabe Wand (Youth Leadership Development). David Reid, president of the Standardbred Transition Alliance, gave an informative presentation on the mission, goals and next steps for the organization. Five new directors were welcomed to the Board, Casey Leonard (District 5), Chris Antonacci (District 6), Tom Leasure (District 7), Cameron Haughton (District 8A) and Lenny Calderone (District 9). With all running unopposed, the current slate of USTA officers were reelected to new terms. USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH - The United States Trotting Association's 2019 Board of Directors annual meeting is scheduled for Friday (March 8) through Monday (March 11) at the Hilton Columbus at Easton. This year's meeting is starting a day earlier on Friday afternoon to allow for the addition of numerous subcommittee meetings and other working group sessions prior to the start of the usual committees and general sessions. The agenda kicks off with the USTA Youth Delegate Committee on Friday at 3 p.m. followed by the USTA Subcommittee - Call to Action at 6 p.m. and concludes following the Board Protocol Subcommittee at 7 p.m. Saturday's schedule leads off with the Executive Committee at 8 a.m. followed by sessions on USTA IT Education for board members and UC/Davis Genome Research, then subcommittees on Uniform Racing Rules and Legislative Advisory before lunch at noon. The afternoon slate is the Harness Racing Medication Collaborative Subcommittee, an Amateur Driving working group, the Fairs Subcommittee with the Communications/Marketing Committee meeting, starting at 3 p.m., ending the first full day of meetings. Saturday evening features the annual Welcome Reception sponsored by the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies and Van Gundy Insurance Agency starting at 6 p.m. The Board of Directors' General Session kicks off the Sunday (March 10) agenda starting at 8 a.m. Following is the agenda for the General Session: 1. Call to Order 2. Pledge of Allegiance 3. Roll Call 4. Introduction of New Directors 5. President's Report 6. Chairman's Report 7. Election of Officers 8. Executive Vice President's Report 9. Financial Report 10. Break 11. Subcommittee Updates a. Board Protocol b. Harness Racing Medication Collaborative c. Call to Action d. Youth Leadership Development 12. Standardbred Transition Alliance Update 13. Other Business 14. Group Photo Following the general session, President's Awards will be presented at the Recognition Luncheon slated for noon. Later in the day, the Racing Committee meets at 1 p.m., the Registration-Owners/Breeders Committee at 3:30 p.m. and the Rules Committee at 5:30 p.m. On Monday (March 11), the agenda commences with the Finance Committee at 9 a.m. The 2019 meetings will then conclude with the second Board of Directors General Session starting at 10:30 a.m. where committee reports will be made, the 2019 budget will be approved and USTA President Russell Williams will make closing remarks. For daily news updates starting Saturday, please visit the USTA website at Also, follow all the up-to-date news on and Facebook and Twitter pages. The hashtag #USTABOD19 will be used on social media throughout the meetings. Ken Weingartner

Columbus, OH - Through the end of February this year, the amount wagered through the USTA Strategic Wagering Program has increased by more than $2 million ($2,005,679) compared to the first two months of 2018. That 43.7 percent increase in harness racing handle was achieved through 219 guaranteed-pool wagers offered at nine different racetracks during the first two months of 2019. In addition, during January and February of this year, the total amount of guaranteed pools in the Strategic Wagering Program increased by $1,107,223 (39.6 percent) compared to the first two months of 2018 when there were 130 guaranteed-pool wagers offered. "Strategic Wagering is solid and has proven to generate interest and handle. The challenge is to figure out how to further leverage the program to increase pool liquidity," said Chris Schick, chairman of the USTA Strategic Wagering Committee. "These upward trends should continue as there are 124 Strategic Wagering Program offerings this March compared to 60 during the same month last year." In addition, two new tracks have been recently added to the program - Saratoga Casino Hotel in February and Rosecroft Raceway this month. Saratoga Casino Hotel joined the program with $5,000 Pick-5 and $25,000 trifecta guaranteed pools on Wednesdays and Thursdays, while Rosecroft Raceway will host their inaugural Strategic Wager on Wednesday (March 6) with a $2,500 guaranteed Pick-5 that will be offered on Wednesdays and Sundays. In 2018, 19 different racetracks participated in the program. Free TrackMaster past performances for the USTA Strategic Wagering Program can be viewed by visiting Up-to-date carryover information as well as those past performances are available on Twitter at @USTAStratWag. The U.S. Trotting Association, in cooperation with its member tracks, established the USTA Strategic Wagering Program in April 2011 to provide value to horseplayers by guaranteeing the size of designated betting pools. The responsibility for these guarantees is shared equally by the USTA, the track hosting the wager, and in some cases, with the local horsemen's association as well. Ken Weingartner

Columbus, OH -- United States Trotting Association President Russell Williams announced Tuesday (March 5) that former USTA President Phil Langley and USTA Director from District 1 Steve McCoy are the recipients of the annual USTA President's Awards. Williams will present the awards at this year's annual meetings in a Recognition Luncheon at the Hilton Columbus at Easton on Sunday (March 10). Langley, who resigned his position as USTA president at the end of 2016, was first elected to the USTA Board of Directors from District 5 in 1983. He began the first of his four terms as USTA president in 2003. "Phil had the ability to achieve a level of unified action on the USTA board that was unequaled during my time as a director," said Williams of his predecessor. "It has been deeply satisfying for me to build on his achievements." A 1959 graduate of Dartmouth College, Langley became racing director and racing secretary for the Chicago Downs Association and Fox Valley Trotting Club in 1965. He served in those positions as well as vice president of Fox Valley until 1998 when Sportsman's Park discontinued harness racing. Langley also was a member of the ownership group for both Balmoral Park and Maywood Park, served as treasurer of Balmoral and was director of racing at both tracks. In addition, he was a member of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Advisory Board, Racing Industry Charitable Foundation Board of Directors, Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame Board of Trustees and the North American Harness Racing Secretaries Association. He also served in an advisory capacity for both the Illinois State Fair and Du Quoin State Fair. Langley was inducted in the Living Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y., on July 1, 2007 and was previously inducted into the Illinois Harness Horsemen's Hall of Fame in 1994. Steve McCoy McCoy, who chairs the USTA's Subcommittee on Board Protocol, was appointed by the District 1 directors to the USTA Board on Jan. 22, 2014 to replace Sam "Chip" Noble. "In several sensitive and complex matters, Steve's analytical and drafting skills have made the USTA a stronger, more up-to-date organization that is more responsive to the membership than ever before," said Williams in making the announcement. McCoy is a former president of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association and has served the OHHA Board of Directors for more than 15 years. He was introduced to harness racing by his father, an owner, breeder and equine veterinarian, and has been involved in the sport for more than 30 years as an owner himself. Among his top horses were Power Score, Spider Woman, Chip And Run, Striking Mystery and Give 'Em The Ax. He earned a B.A. degree (summa cum laude) from The Ohio State University in 1970 and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California at Berkley in 1973. McCoy currently serves as the General Counsel for The Showe Companies and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Best Lawyers of America since 1987. Ken Weingartner

Saratoga Springs, NY - Proposals to modify the regulatory policy concerning clenbuterol and betamethasone use in Standardbred harness racing will be one of the major topics considered at the upcoming meeting of the Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) when it meets April 3-5, 2019 in Arcadia, California. The proposed changes were submitted late last year to standardbred regulatory commissions directly from the Harness Racing Medication Collaborative (HRMC), a subcommittee of the United States Trotting Association (USTA), chaired by Joe Faraldo of New York. Several commissions have deferred action on the proposed change pending a recommendation from the ARCI, the umbrella group of the racing regulatory authorities throughout North America and parts of the Caribbean. The ARCI racing regulatory standards are embodied in its Model Rules of Racing, which form the foundation for the regulation of horse and greyhound racing in North America and, in some cases, beyond. Several ARCI Committees will consider the proposal, which would liberalize the current policy for these two drugs if adopted. The current policy was adopted by the ARCI upon recommendations that had come from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium several years ago. The proposals to change the point at which a violation occurs for each of these drugs if found in a standardbred horse post race will be reviewed by the RCI Scientific Advisory Group, the RCI Standardbred Committee, the Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee, the Model Rules Committee, and ultimately the entire Membership at the April meeting. Representatives from the USTA as well as Mr. Faraldo have been invited to attend and have been included on the various agendas to afford them the opportunity to make the case for the proposed policy changes, which would represent breed specific rules for standardbred races. In the past the ARCI has adopted more stringent breed specific policies for quarter horse races where clenbuterol and albuterol are both considered prohibited at any level. The USTA is requesting a more lenient approach for clenbuterol and betamethasone than what currently exists in the Model Rules. "The regulators are very interested in hearing what they have to say, including why this policy change is necessary and in the best interest of the horse as well as ensuring the integrity of the race," said RCI President Ed Martin. "I think it important to note that standardbred races in Indiana, New Jersey, California, Kentucky, Minnesota, Maryland, and Florida occur consistent with the current Model Rules while other jurisdictions have made exceptions, which is their right. In those jurisdictions that have adopted the Model Rules or are required by statute or rule to implement the Model Rules, compliance has not posed a problem to those who race. That being said, we continually strive to consider any and all information in assessing the appropriateness and applicability of the standards we embody in the Model Rules and are never adverse to modifying a standard if the facts warrant it," he said. Information concerning the proposals are posted online at From the ARCI                        

BEDFORD PA -The annual meeting of District 7 (Pennsylvania) of the U.S. Trotting Association was held Saturday afternoon in this southwest Pennsylvania city. District 7 Chairman Sam Beegle presided; also in attendance were District 7 directors Russell Williams (who, as the USTA President, served as the organization's representative) and Rich Gillock, along with Tom Leasure, director of harness racing at The Meadows who recently joined the District 7 directors. Fred Strathmeyer, deputy secretary of the PA State Department of Agriculture, attended the meeting, and said that interviews for the vacant position of Director of the Bureau of Standardbred Racing within the State Horse Racing Commission should be starting shortly, and they hoped to have a person in place within a couple of months. He also promised to work on the selection of the 2-day Sire Stakes host sites, beginning with the annual Fair Meeting at Hershey this coming Thursday and the upcoming Horse Racing Commission meeting. Chris McErlean, Vice-President of Racing for Penn National Gaming, attended the meeting as his group recently purchased The Meadows, and spoke briefly. Russell Williams then guided the assembled through the proposed USTA Rule Changes, so that the Directors could speak the mind of their constituents when the USTA full board meets in March in Columbus. Below is how the District 7 members voted: 1. Extended break -- REJECTED 2. Media in paddock -- ACCEPTED 3. On track 5 min. before post time -- REJECTED 4. No diff. ext. and nonext. wins - REJECTED 5. Who can claim -- ACCEPTED 6. Number of trailers - ACCEPTED with the AMENDMENT that at non-ext. meets there should be a maximum of one trailer regardless of age. 7. Purses if DQ -- REJECTED 8. Secure entry process -- ACCEPTED 9. Electronic display of entries -- REJECTED 10. PP 1-4 / PP 5-8 -- REJECTED 11. Horses coming to gate -- ACCEPTED 12. Speed of gate -- ACCEPTED 13. Charging the gate -- ACCEPTED 14. Starting rules violations -- ACCEPTED 15. "Holding horses" before start -- REJECTED 16. Position of second-tier horses -- REJECTED 17. Amateur driver -- REJECTED 18. "AP" driving license -- REJECTED 19. Racedriving violations -- REJECTED 20. Whip color -- TABLED 21. Rules on breaking -- REJECTED 22. Mud aprons - ACCEPTED with the AMENDMENT at end " ... pari-mutuel tracks, at which time the track shall be rated 'sloppy'." 23. Number of mares bred -- ACCEPTED 24. Submission of "Mares Bred" list -- ACCEPTED 25. Reusage of horse names -- ACCEPTED 26. Licensed trainer - ACCEPTED. Jerry Connors

BEDFORD PA - The annual meeting of the U.S. Trotting Association's District 7, which encompasses Pennsylvania, will be held this Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort in this southwestern Pennsylvania city, followed by the annual Pennsylvania Fairs Awards Banquet, to be held that evening in the same location. USTA District Chairman Sam Beegle, a native son of Bedford, will preside over the USTA meeting, which will include discussion of the 26 rule change proposals submitted this year, along with other questions and observations about the USTA. The District Directors will bring this information to the annual meeting of the U.S. Trotting Association, which is to be held March 9-11 at the Hilton-Easton in Columbus OH. A cocktail hour will precede the annual Fair Awards Banquet, which is jointly sponsored by the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, and the Pennsylvania Fair Harness Horsemen's Association. Due to the generosity of state and regional sponsors, a ticket to this banquet is usually one of the "best bets" of the harness racing year, as the raffle drawing for the materials donated by the sponsors, per average ticketholder, lets many people "show a profit" for the evening. The banquet will have a streak of blue as the dominating color, as the Schadel brothers will be spotlighted for their 2018 accomplishments. Todd Schadel (colors blue and white) will be lauded for leading the driving and training colony with 71 and 78 wins respectively, and for being the North American UDR champion in the 300-499 starts category, with a "batting average" of .378. Todd's brother Tony (colors blue and black) will also be in the spotlight because of the exploits of Aflame Hanover, a Russell Hanover-Applique Hanover freshman gelding co-owned by driver Tony and his wife, trainer Linda Schadel. In winning his Pennsylvania Fair Sire Stakes Championship on October 6 at The Meadows, Aflame Hanover won by open lengths in 1:51.4 - the fastest mile ever in the 22-year history of the PA Fair Championships, and accomplished by a two-year-old, no less!      

HARRISBURG, PA - Aaron Merriman, the first driver to win over 1000 races in two consecutive years and set to post the second-highest one-season victory total in North American history, has been selected as Driver of the Year in a vote among members of the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA), harness racing's leading media group. Merriman is only 40 years old, but he is already a "veteran" of 20+ years of the sulky wars, learning from his father Lanny, mostly at Northfield Park near Cleveland. He had 182 winners in 2000, his first year of full-time exposure, but he has been gaining with every step, with 10,857 victories in the 21st century and 6926 visits to Victory Lane in the first nine years of the this decade. Merriman will post the second-highest win total for a driver in harness racing history, behind only Tim Tetrick's standard of 1189 in 2007; Aaron was at 1118 after Wednesday's racing. This total eclipses his personal best of 1093, taken last year, and this year he has reached another important milestone with his mounts earning over $10.3 million - his first eight-figure season. And the level of competition Aaron faces at the main terminals of his endless miles on the road is very high - at Northfield, he consistently races against Ron Wrenn Jr., who was the last person to dethrone him for the national title (2014, by a 847-841 count), and at The Meadows near Pittsburgh he competes against Dave Palone, the winningest driver of all-time (18,640 and counting), and the leading pilot at The Meadows since shortly after high-wheeled sulkies went out of fashion, so it seems. Reservations for those attending can be made through USHWA’s website,; a link to the hotel’s computer is on the front page of the website. Those who would like to take out congratulatory ads for awardwinners in the always-popular Dan Patch Awards Journal can do so by contacting Kim Rinker at (the 2018 journal is online at the writers’ website). Information about purchasing tickets for the dinner will become available and will be posted shortly. From the United States Harness Writers Association

Trenton, NJ — Pretty much everyone who knows Ken Weingartner in the harness racing business likes and respects him. At the same time, pretty much no one knows of the hidden talent he has been harboring for these many years. Weingartner, the award-winning Media Relations Manager at the United States Trotting Association, works tirelessly at publicizing and writing about Standardbred racing in his trademark easy-going, humble manner. He’s not the kind of guy one would ever expect to get on stage in front of a theatre full of people for an entire month. Yet that is exactly where Weingartner can be found throughout December as a member of the ensemble in the highly acclaimed version of “A Christmas Carol” at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J. The production has drawn Tony-award winning actors to play the lead characters and gets rave reviews from media outlets stretching from Philadelphia to New York. In the middle of it all this year is Weingartner in the dual role of a poor townsperson and the baker at Mr. Fezziwig’s Christmas party. On stage for an approximate total of 15 minutes, he sings and dances in several feel-good numbers that have the audience clapping their hands and smiling. And he dances good. The man has rhythm! It doesn’t end there, as Weingartner also performs, in-character, in a pre-show engagement in the lobby helping to lead family activities. He is also part of the bell choir in the audience that opens the second act. This is so far from interviewing Jimmy Takter or taking photos of Hannelore Hanover that it just blows people’s minds. Including Weingartner’s. “I would say most people are definitely stunned,” he said. “I can’t say I blame them. When I found out I would be part of the ensemble I was stunned myself. “I never once thought about it. I never thought it was possible.” With good reason. Weingartner had never attended a performance at McCarter despite living within 20 minutes of it his entire life. Not to mention, his acting resume consisted of playing a traveling salesman as a 4th-grader in a production of “The Music Man” at Hightstown’s Walter C. Black Elementary School. But as the old saying goes, behind every successful man lies a woman. Ken had always been a huge fan of “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens’ classic tale of redemption on Christmas Eve. So, last year his wife, Lana, took him to see the performance in Princeton. “I’ve always liked the story and it’s something I’ve turned to, either in movies, audio books, or the novella, every year at Christmastime,” he said. “When we were at the show and I heard about the Community Ensemble, I joked with Lana, ‘I should do that.’ And she said, ‘You should.’” Lana began watching for audition information and coaxed her husband into it. He attended a workshop to learn more about the ensemble and the process. “It was fun, and everyone from McCarter was so encouraging, that I decided to continue and audition,” Weingartner said. “I was thrilled when I got a call-back. I figured anything that happened after that was a bonus. I knew they were going to only select 23 adults for the ensemble, so I didn’t go into it with any grand expectations. I was hoping to be selected, but I really just wanted to have fun with it and try something outside my comfort zone. As it turned out, I felt comfortable rather quickly, which I think is a credit to the people from McCarter and the other people that auditioned. The auditioning alone was a remarkable experience.” Greg Wood (center) with members of the 2018 cast and community ensemble of A Christmas Carol. McCarter Theatre Center photo. That’s not surprising, as this is much more than just a community theatre play. Greg Wood, who plays Scrooge, has appeared in such films as “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs” and popular TV shows “Law & Order” and “How to Get Away with Murder.” Steve Rattazzi, who plays Fezziwig, was in Broadway’s “Indecent.” Numerous others have performed in off-Broadway shows and in highly respected venues throughout the country. No one acted big time, however, as they embraced the Standardbred Kid as one of their own. “Every person associated with the show has been wonderful to work with,” Weingartner said. “From day one, it was really about bonding and becoming a family. Especially with the amount of time you spend together for two months. People have been nothing but friendly, helpful, encouraging — simply positive. And it really has been a collaborative effort.” That collaboration is what made it more comfortable for Ken to ease into it all. “It didn’t matter if you had no experience, the director (Adam Immerwahr) and the entire team putting the production together wanted to see what you could bring to your characters, telling little stories within the larger story,” Weingartner said. “I think that’s what makes the community ensemble work. I think the idea is to assemble a group that is representative of the community, not to put together a group to simply represent a community. You can see the result, on stage and off.” Rehearsals started on Nov. 9 and were held all day on Saturdays and Sundays before they increased to weeknights during the final week leading up to the actual performances, which run Dec. 4-29. There are 33 shows in all, running for two hours with a 20-minute intermission. When the curtain rose for Weingartner’s first performance, he handled it as calmly as writing up Friday night results at The Meadowlands. “I was more excited than nervous,” he said. “Of course, there was some anxiousness because I’d never done a show before, but you’re so well prepared that it really fills you with confidence and helps you focus. I think doing the pre-show activities also helps because you get to interact with the audience before getting on stage. Walking out on stage for the first time was definitely a special moment. It still is special each time I do it.” What makes it special is not just his participation, but watching the professionals around him. Weingartner has gained a whole new appreciation for actors and their craft. “Absolutely,” he said. “Not only from the standpoint of preparation, but from bringing energy to each performance day after day, often times twice a day. It really is demanding.” And, much like a harness race, where that perfect trip is so hard to obtain, live theatre is filled with potential pitfalls. Thus the drivers, er, actors, must overcome adversity on the fly. “It is live and not everything will go as planned every time,” Weingartner continued. “To see their ability to adjust, and do it so it goes unnoticed by the audience, is quite remarkable. And that extends beyond the actors to everyone involved with the production. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that is amazing and it’s all vital to the success of the show.” What does not surprise most of Weingartner’s friends and colleagues is that he is a man with absolutely no ego. Not the kind of person one would find in the limelight. He feels, however, that he is just one cog in the machine. “My focus was on the experience itself,” he said. “I think the fact I’m part of an ensemble is part of it. It’s not about bringing attention to any one person, it’s a collaborative effort between the group as a whole.” Ken is unsure if he will try it again next year, noting that the time constraints are exhaustive. He is quick to note, however, that this has truly been one of the great experiences of his life. “From the moment it began at the workshop I attended, this has been a blast,” he said. “It’s something a year ago that I never even imagined doing and I’m so glad I took the opportunity to give it a try. Honestly, had I not gotten in the show it still would have been a terrific experience, just getting the chance to do something new and meet the people from McCarter. But to be a part of this show, especially when you get feedback from people about how much they enjoy it, is an honor. I truly love this production and the people involved in it, so being any part of it is the thrill of a lifetime. I’ll never forget these moments, these people, and I’ll be forever grateful for getting this chance.” In a way, Weingartner’s stage career mirrors that of his day job. If he is not entertaining fans of harness racing with informative stories and photos, he is entertaining a holiday audience with his choreography. And still a harness guy at heart, he is able to merge the two with one line from the play. “Actually,” he said, “I do like that Bob Cratchit says ‘I was (Tiny) Tim’s trotter all the way from church.’” by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

Columbus, OH - Beginning with the harness racing foal crop of 2019, the primary means of USTA horse identification will be the microchip. "Microchipping provides a more safe, efficient and reliable way to identify horses," said USTA Director of Registry T.C. Lane. "The microchipping process is less stressful for the horse than freeze branding or a lip tattoo. In addition to its identification capability, the Merck microchips also can read the horse's body temperature quickly in a non-invasive fashion, which is a great benefit in monitoring the horse's health." To watch a video explanation and demonstration of the microchipping process hosted by the USTA's Wendy Ross with Midland Acres' doctors John Mossbarger and Bob Schwartz, click here. Not all horses will need to be microchipped immediately, but by 2021, all horses that race in the United States at all USTA member tracks (including county fairs) will be required to be identified with a microchip. All USTA ID Technicians are trained to implant microchips and will also continue to collect a DNA sample from each horse to send to the approved laboratory. All horses that have been previously freeze branded by the USTA will be required to be microchipped by a USTA ID Technician. Horse owners have the option to microchip stallions as well as broodmares. For foals of 2019, the microchipping fee is incorporated into the registration. All others with an existing freeze brand (racehorses, broodmares, stallions, etc.) can be implanted for a fee of $35 per head. The USTA has agreed to allow those that choose to continue to freeze brand the foals of 2019 to do so. That $75 fee must be prepaid to the USTA in addition to the normal registration fee and there are no discounts for multiple horses at any location with this arrangement. All USTA extended pari-mutuel racetracks will be equipped with readers to identify horses and county fair officials that will be responsible for identifying horses will be required to have them as well. As a USTA Member Benefit through our partnership with Merck Animal Health/HomeAgain, Bio thermal Scanners are available at the discounted, introductory rate of $279 for a BlueTooth model and $69 for the smaller standard unit. Industry participants (tracks/individual members/associations) can purchase a universal scanner for their own purposes at a reduced rate via our supplier by contacting the USTA at 1.877.800.8782 or by ordering via In addition, Merck has agreed to partner with the USTA, for free, a lifetime subscription to their HomeAgain rescue services, which is a proactive network of veterinarians, rescue facilities and volunteers who are immediately notified in an attempt to help locate lost animals. The program maintains owner contact information that proactively prompts owners to update it during the annual membership renewal process and through other member communications. This is an added benefit for horses that are in need of rescue or connected via the USTA's Full Circle program. There are multiple reasons why microchips are a superior means of identification including: • Microchips in general offer a faster/more efficient and less stressful means of identification and require less time to implant than freeze branding or lip tattooing, providing greater convenience for farm visits. • Can measure a temperature in only a few seconds compared to rectal reading that might take several minutes. • Is a safe, unobtrusive way to uniquely identify individual horses. • Provides a less stressful way to alert owners of health problems through temperature sensing (EHV-1), which makes preventive care easier. • Allows for monitoring temperature during and after surgery or procedure, where minimal disturbance is desired. • Alerts owner to possible sub-clinical indications of potential infectious diseases. • Ideal for both young and pregnant stock. Improved technology has eliminated the concerns about the microchip moving after implantation. With Merck’s patented Bio-Bond® process, the microchips are encased in an insert micro-capsule made of bio-compatible material. The process enables the animal's tissue to permanently anchor the microchip at the desired anatomical site. HomeAgain/Destron Fearing microchips stay where they should for the health of the animals and for reading convenience. Any registration or identification question can be addressed by contacting the USTA Member Services team at or by calling the USTA office at 1.877.800.8782. U.S. Trotting Association | 6130 S. Sunbury Rd. | Westerville, OH 43081-3909  

A reminder that today (Nov. 21) is the deadline to RSVP for the New York Sire Stakes & US Trotting Association District 8 (Upstate New York) Annual Awards Banquet. Please RSVP via phone or email to Judy Spadaro at 518-694-5002 or The banquet will be held Sunday, Dec. 2 at Batavia Downs Gaming and Hotel. The cocktail reception will begin at 6:30 p.m., hosted by USTA District 8 Tracks. The awards banquet will follow immediately at 7:30 p.m. in the Grandstands Banquet Room. Tickets are $35. Payment should be made out and sent to: Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Development Fund C/O CHMS 230 Washington Avenue Extension, Suite 201 Albany, NY 12203 A special room rate of $99 has been arranged for all banquet attendees at the Hotel at Batavia Downs. Reservations can be made online by using Code NYSS2, or by calling 585-815-7000. Tell the desk you are making a reservation for the New York Sire Stakes banquet to receive the discounted rate. Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you at the banquet. From the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund  

As a trendy statement, "Fake News", seems to be thrown around frivolously typically with little to no meaning.  After this week's United States Trotting Association Executive Board meeting "Fake News" seemed to hit social media even before the meeting's adjournment. The Standardbred Transition Alliance, the STA, has been a hot topic for the last year. The idea was formed based on the clear success of the already existing Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. The TAA accredits existing racehorse aftercare organizations based on important criteria such as; that they are pro-racing, maintain a current 501(c)3 federal status, and create fundraisers to aid accredited organizations. The TAA was founded in 2012 and have granted $10 million dollars to 7,000 Thoroughbreds to be retrained, rehomed or retired by their 64 accredited organizations ( At the meetings of this week's Executive Committee meeting, the STA's proposal was brought to the Board of Directors requesting $75,000 to be diverted from the SOS program that has been in place to help rescue horses. When the rebuttle and directors questions began, it was clear that the Standardbred Transition Alliance did not yet have had not shared any details deemed important such as a business proposal, budget, mission, or vision in place to accompany their request. Through negotiation without the necessary details it was decided that the $75,000 fund allocation would have to be "tabled" until the STA can create a more extensive business plan and budget to accompany their request. An alternate suggestion, by Joe Faraldo was made in discussion on the motion to table, that upon delivery of more details perhaps it would be wise to deliver funds in tranches starting at $25,000, upon the STA reaching stated goals of actual contributions from industry participants themselves. Supplementing STA's growth further as the goal levels were achieved down the line. The motion carried however, because of the underlying failure of a concrete plan being presented. Soon after, the President of the USTA, Russell Williams, (Trotstorm @Russell_USTA) took to social media private messaging USTA members to "Tell You Directors to support the STA and retweet, please #supportSTA" and made a public Tweet as follows; "After an intense day, we have a good budget. All action items complete but one. The directors can't get together to support the Standardbred Transition Alliance. We are the last major breed in the US to have zero infrastructure for post career horses". This tweet then went viral, as it became quickly assumed that the USTA Board of Directors that voted against the $75,000 fund allocation were against the STA. The assumption on behalf of social media weren't portrayed by the USTA President that the majority of the Directors' action reflected their disinterest in helping seed this new entity was false and misleading. wasn't entirely honest in fact true. After looking into the matter more extensively, it became clear that clearly the majority of the board Executive Committee felt that without a proper business proposal in place, it would be irresponsible to allocate those funds at this time. Especially after the recent dues increase and a potential $700,000.00 projected deficit in the next 5 years. If you revisit the Twitter and Facebook posts you will see a plethora of negativity surrounding this. On occasion through Facebook comments, the USTA Directors are referred to as "heartless", "disgusting", and "clueless", in retrospect this isn't the case. Gabe Wand, a member of the USTA Executive Board of Directors stated, "the majority of our board would love nothing more than to see this effort become fruitful. At this time we need to see a more transparent plan in place. We need to make sure this group is pro-racing and their mission is congruent with the USTA's mission. I have faith this will be something great. The STA Board plans to have their first meeting late November, we will relook at this once we receive more information." After chatting with many other board members this statement rang true. As an avid supporter of aftercare, I find faith in Wand's statement and look forward to seeing the STA become a staple within the harness racing industry. I cannot help but think, that in wake of an epic $750,000 social media bust, can you blame the USTA Board of Directors Executive Committee for requesting a more extensive business plan/proposal before allocating $75,000? I cant. This letter was submitted by Ashley Tetrick, Delaware

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