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Columbus, OH — Applications for the 2021 Matching Funds Grant for harness racing fair meets in the USA, sponsored by the USTA, are now available. Applications, and materials to help you create your application, are available at this link. There is once again $10,000 of funding available. Applications must be postmarked or emailed by May 1; late submissions will not be considered. Once the application is received, an email confirmation will be sent to the contact person as submitted on the application cover sheet. If you have not received an email confirmation, your submission was not received. Please note that in order for your application to be considered complete, it must include: — Filled out application cover sheet — Typed marketing plan, between 250-1,000 words — Typed budget, including your total applicable expenses and details how much you are requesting from the USTA (max. $1,000) — Copies of quotes — Proposed copy/draft ad, to ensure that 75 percent of the marketing efforts focus on harness racing There is another program available to assist fairs in purchasing promotional items for grandstand giveaways. There is $10,000 in funding available for this program as well. To receive reimbursement, up to $1,000 per requestor, please email a copy of the paid invoice and a photo of the item with a harness horse on it to jessica.schroeder@ustrotting.com. Funding is available on a first come, first served basis. Questions about the Matching Funds Grant can be directed to Jessica Schroeder at 614.224.2291, ext. 3212. by Jessica Schroeder, for the USTA

Columbus, OH — The U.S. Trotting Association Board of Directors Annual Meeting concluded Monday (March 22) with approval of the 2021 budget, five rule change proposals approved, including a new Rule 18.08 for Urging Regulations, Prohibitions and Penalties and the announcement that the 2022 meeting will return to an in-person gathering from March 11-14 at the Sheraton Columbus at Capitol Square. “I’m really overwhelmed at the amount of work put in by the directors and USTA staff,” said USTA President Russell Williams. “In my 25 years of coming to these meetings, this is the best one we’ve ever had.” The completely revamped rule for Urging (whipping) was a result of the recommendations made by a subcommittee of the Rules Committee led by director Chris Antonacci. There will be more information about this new rule announced in the near future. The full Board of Directors also approved reports from the Racing, Registration, Rules and Finance Committees. Prior to the closing general session in a Zoom meeting that lasted just over three hours, the Finance Committee approved the 2021 budget, which projects a surplus of nearly $700,000 over projected expenses, and that was also passed by the full board. To see the new rule changes, click here. The Board also approved honorariums for two veterinarians who have contributed very valuable medication studies to the USTA and Harness Racing Medication Collaborative. USTA President Russell Williams announced the formation of three new subcommittees and one change to the Executive Committee. A finance subcommittee will consider the USTA investment policy for the future. A second subcommittee will assist the Standardbred Transition Alliance in developing a mechanism to provide sustained funding for the organization. In addition, following a presentation by Dr. Rebecca Bellone on pilot studies on genetic diversity (variability) and performance of Standardbreds in last Wednesday’s (March 17) Registration Committee, a subcommittee will consider and make recommendations on three studies by the University of California, Davis that she proposed. Williams selected Joe Frasure Jr. a track director from District 8A to replace the departing Alex Dadoyan on the Executive Committee. All other members on the committee will remain the same for 2021. After being called to order at 3 p.m., the meeting was adjourned at 3:22 p.m. To view a recap video of the annual meeting closing general session, click here. From the United States Trotting Association

MGM Northfield Park has announced the addition of a $100,000 Pick-5 total pool guarantee for Tuesday (February 23). Beginning in race six, the $100,000 Pick-5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $21,559. This harness racing wager is being offered as part of the Strategic Wagering Program through the United States Trotting Association. Northfield's Pick-5, Pick-4s, Pick-3s, 50¢ (non-jackpot) Pick 6 and 20¢ Super High Five offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14%. Tuesday's post time is 5 PM. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

Columbus, OH — Race conditions for the 2021 USTA stakes and early/late closers are now available online. Also available are sections of the Event Guide, including harness racing payment schedules, 2020 race results and race schedules by division. Access the current year information at horsemen.ustrotting.com/stakes. Payments are due starting Feb. 15 for many 3-year-old and some 2-year-old races. Race dates are still being submitted for some sire stakes programs and will be included in the Stakes Calendar, which is scheduled to go to print mid-February with an in-hand date of March 1 (the calendar runs March 2021-February 2022). You can pre-order your copy by simply logging into your USTA MyAccount (available to both members and non-members), visiting shop.ustrotting.com or by calling Member Services at 877.800.USTA. by Jessica Schroeder, for the USTA

Columbus, OH - With the suspension of harness racing for about three months during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, total wagering at all U.S. harness tracks for the year was down by 18.39 percent from $1,424,886,558 in 2019 to $1,162,848,201, a decrease of $263,038,357. In addition, the amount of purses distributed was down significantly by 30.82 percent. In 2020, horsemen earned a total of $304,059,115 a decrease of $135,486,904 from the $439,546,019 in 2019 purses. The 2,358 race days in 2020 was 1,066 less than the 3,424 race days in 2019, a 31.13 percent decrease. Despite all of the lost race days, the per race wagering average increased by 10.5 percent from $5,008 in 2019 to $5,534 in 2020. To better understand the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic and the lengthy suspension of racing during 2020 had on the numbers, the economic indicators are broken down into three categories. 1. The year-to-year economic indicators for 2020 compared to 2019. 2. The "Before COVID" economic indicators before the shutdowns caused by the pandemic comparing Jan. 1 to March 22, 2020 to the same timeframe in 2019. 3. The "After COVID" economic indicators after tracks resumed racing following the shutdowns comparing June 1 to Dec. 31, 2020 to the same timeframe in 2019.               Following are the comparative economic indicators for U.S. harness racing from 2019 to 2020. ECONOMIC INDICATORS ON U.S. RACES YEAR-TO-YEAR COMPARISON Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2020   2020 2019 % Change Total Wagered $1,162,848,201 $1,424,886,558 -18.39% Per Race avg. $45,140 $39,991 +12.87% Per Betting Interest $5,534 $5,008 +10.50% Purses $304,059,115 $439,546,019 -30.82% Race Days 2,358 3,424 -31.13%   BEFORE COVID Jan. 1 – March 22, 2020   2020 2019 % Change Total Wagered $299,074,258 $315,189,172 -5.11% Per Race avg. $52,756 $56,976 -7.41% Per Betting Interest $6,594 $6,975 -5.46% Purses $53,949,205 $52,804,155 +2.17% Race Days 474 455 +4.18%   AFTER COVID June 1 – Dec. 31, 2020   2020 2019 % Change Total Wagered $844,385,389 $796,464,289 +6.02% Per Race avg. $42,414 $35,097 +20.85% Per Betting Interest $5,173 $4,414 +17.20% Purses $248,668,418 $306,707,985 -18.92% Race Days 1,866 2,339 -20.22%   “Obviously it was a very difficult year for everyone in harness racing, especially for our horsemen, racetracks and everyone whose employment depends on our industry,” said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. “All of them should be commended for their efforts and compliance with the required health and safety measures that allowed us to return to racing. And we’d like to thank all of our loyal harness racing fans for their continued support through tough times.” Please note:  The information above includes U.S. and Canadian common and separate pool wagers on races contested in the U.S. Dan Leary Director of Marketing and Communications  

Columbus, OH — The Dec. 31 deadline to register your 2020 harness racing foals without penalty is just around the corner. The foal registration application, fees and mating certificate all must be postmarked or submitted online by Dec. 31 to stay at the $185 registration fee. Any registrations missing one or more of those pieces are subject to a $265 late fee. Check on the status of your mating certificates by logging into your USTA MyAccount and clicking “Broodmare Activity.” There will be a ‘Yes’ in the “M.C.Released” column once the mating certificate is received in the office or released electronically by the stallion owner. You can register your foals, or submit a no foal report, online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If the mare is owned by you, a stable you are a member of or by a person you are an authorized agent for, you can start the foal registration process by clicking that same “Broodmare Activity” link. If that mare does not appear in that list, click “Online Services” from the black navigation bar, then “Horse” and “Foal Registration” to get started. You can still send a Foal Registration Application or Live Foal/No Foal Report by mail, email or fax. If you have old forms at home, please be sure to use these links so you have the most up-to-date forms. More information about foal registration can be found on this page of the USTA website. If you have any further questions, please contact Member Services at 877.800.8782 or memberservices@ustrotting.com.  

Columbus, OH - Due to travel concerns related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 USTA Board of Directors annual meeting will not be held in person, but rather all board meetings and functions will be conducted exclusively online. The determination was made through a unanimous vote of the USTA Executive Committee, which convened via Zoom this past Wednesday (Nov. 18). "Health and safety were the most important considerations in making this decision," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. "We've successfully conducted a number of our annual district meetings online during the past month, which has provided us with a good test run for virtual meetings." The 2021 annual meeting was scheduled to take place at the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square hotel in Columbus, OH from March 12-15. The agenda and full schedule for the virtual 2021 USTA Board of Directors Meeting will be disseminated once dates and details have been finalized. From the USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH –  The U.S. Trotting Association released the 2020 List of harness racing Mares Bred statistics on Thursday (Nov. 12). As of that date, there have been 12,229 mares bred by 623 stallions. In 2019, there were only 11,513 mares reported by this date.  The numbers indicate an increase of 6.21 percent compared to 2019. The expectation is that the reports on the numbers of mares bred will increase during the final two months of the year.  Based upon previous years, it is estimated that the reported number of mares bred will increase by 1,500 by the end of 2020. “We are pleased to report that the 2020 List of Mares Bred numbers are once again up over the previous breeding season,” said USTA Registrar TC Lane.  “This marks the fifth straight year that the number of mares bred has increased.” Following are the statistics for the List of Mares Bred for the previous five years: 2015    12,811 2016    13,390 2017    14,316 2018    14,980 2019    14,997 Ohio is the state with the most Mares Bred to date with 2,860.  The following are the top five states as of Nov. 12, 2020. Ohio- 2,860 Indiana- 2,497 Pennsylvania- 2,216 New York- 1,181 Illinois- 997 Another interesting statistic is related to the location of the mares around the country. Following are the top five states by mare location in 2020: Ohio- 2,530 Indiana- 2,334 Pennsylvania- 2,054 New York- 1,223 Illinois- 933 Some mares have been bred to more than one stallion and more than one report has been submitted for those mares.  Each of those reports has been counted separately in the statistics on the List of Mares Bred.  “Despite the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the major sales have been fairly pleased with their results considering all factors,” added Lane. “Five years ago, with foal crops on the decline, there was some concern about where the industry was headed.  But with purse structures as high as they’ve ever been in many states and the positive trends in breeding, there may never be a better time to be an owner in harness racing.” from the USTA Communications Department

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - The 2-year-old filly, Aela Jamieson, by Chapter Seven of Blue Chip Farms in Wallkill, N.Y., has been named the Unites States Trotting Association District 8 Horse of the Year. The harness racing award was presented to trainer Julie Miller at Sunday's New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) & USTA District 8 Virtual Awards Banquet. "We loved her at Lexington at the sale, she was a smaller filly, but she really grew into herself," said Julie Miller, trainer. "I was really happy with her, she had some bumps in the beginning of the season on the half mile tracks but you don't give up on them and you just keep tinkering with her equipment. I was very fortunate that she started to get with the program at Vernon and Tioga. When the money was down at Yonkers, she really put her best foot forward." The filly took home more than $92,800 worth of total earnings for owners Andy Miller Stable, Inc., Dumain Haven Farm and Little E, LLC. You can watch the full livestream of The New York Sire Stakes & USTA District 8 Awards here. From the New York Sire Stakes

Timonium, MD – Sister Sledge, a 3-year-old daughter of Father Patrick, was purchased for $265,000 by agent Robert Lindstrom to lead Saturday’s (Nov. 7) second day of the Standardbred Horse Sale’s mixed sale at the Maryland State Fairgrounds. Sister Sledge established her lifetime mark of 1:51.2 in winning a division of the Tompkins Geers at The Meadowlands. Lisa photo. Sister Sledge, who was a 2020 Hambletonian finalist, was consigned by Preferred Equine Marketing. She has a record of 15-5-3-0, $842,815 in career earnings and a lifetime mark of 1:51.2 established in her victory in a division of the Tompkins Geers division at The Meadowlands on July 25, 2020. The second highest purchase of the final session of the sale was Philly Hanover, a 4-year-old Captaintreacherous mare who was sold to Joe Parisi for $225,000.  Consigned by Northwood Bloodstock Agency, she has 10 wins, 10 seconds and nine third-place finishes from 45 starts and has earned $363,304. She established her lifetime mark of 1:49.2 as a 3-year-old. For the two days of the mixed sale, 446 horses sold for a total of $12,844,000 and an average of $28,798. For complete results, click here. From the USTA

Schenectady, N.Y. - United States Trotting Association District 8 has announced the winners of its 2020 year-end awards. For the second year in a row, George Ducharme has been named Trainer of the Year; Pari-Mutuel Driver of the Year goes to Jason Bartlett; and Leon Bailey is the County Fair Driver of the Year. Ducharme earned a combined $382,482 in the New York Sire Stakes and Excelsior Series this year with 77 starts. His stable was led by 3-year-old trotting filly Without A Warning, who took home $231,162, and 3-year-old trotting colt Berkery J, who earned $90,530. Ducharme was also the leading money earner at his home track, Vernon Downs, with $132,121 in purses and a 36.2 winning percentage. Overall, Ducharme's horses have banked $1,298,188 this season and he sports a .403 UTR average. Bartlett has $1.44 million in combined New York Sire Stakes and Excelsior earnings this season and 53 victories on the circuit. He drove the winners of no less than 40% of the NYSS program finals-five County Fair Champions, three Excelsior Series Champions and two Sire Stakes Champions, including Hobbs (3-year-old trotting colt) and King James Express (2-year-old colt pacer). For the year, Bartlett has guided almost 300 winners to nearly $4.7 million in earnings. Bailey finished atop the New York County Fair earnings chart with $66,456 in 91 starts. He drove 33 winners, including New York County Fair Champions Mr. Dunnigans (3-year-old pacing colt) and Miley Rose (2-year-old pacing filly), whom he also trained. In addition, Bailey also earned his first driving championship at his home track of Vernon Downs. This is his first USTA award. Awards will be recognized during the joint NYSS and USTA District 8 virtual banquet taking place this Sunday (Nov. 8) on Facebook Live. The evening will honor champion horses, trainers, drivers, owners and breeders of the NYSS, the Excelsior Series and the New York County Fair Series. USTA District 8 Awards for Horse of the Year will be announced live as part of the broadcast. Also honored that evening will be these USTA divisional champions: Aela Jamieson - 2-Year-Old Trotting Filly Owner: Andy Miller Stable Inc, Dumain Haven Farm, Little E LLC Trainer: Julie Miller Steel - 2-Year-Old Trotting Colt Owner: Pinske Stables, Crawford Farms Racing Trainer: Julie Miller Albergita Hanover - 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly Owner: Seth E Coen, George Derocker, Camelot Stable In, Decker's Corner Stable Trainer: Linda Toscano Sauvignon Bluechip - 2-Year-Old Pacing Colt Owner: Robert Sholes, Edward Davis, David Dziengiel Trainer: David Dziengiel C And T's Credit - 3-Year-Old Trotting Filly Owner: Peter Barbato, Samuel Bova Trainer: John Stark Jr. Chaptiama - 3-Year-Old Trotting Colt Owner: Purple Haze Stables LLC Trainer: Trond Smedshammer Hen Party - 3-Year-Old Pacing Filly Owner: Crawford Farms Racing Trainer: Tony Alagna Splash Brother - 3-Year-Old Pacing Colt Owner: Ray Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing LLC, Steven Arnold, Tammy Ann Flannery Trainer: Ray Schnittker "On behalf of our board of directors, I'd like to congratulate this year's winners," said USTA District 8 Chairman Todd Haight. "These horses and horsemen are shining examples of the level of quality coming out of this area and each has represented this district well. We are proud to have this opportunity each year to honor their contributions to our sport, especially this year with all the challenges our sport has faced." Giveaways will also be presented to two lucky winners throughout the night during the NY Sire Stakes Facebook live event. Tune in during the program to see how you can win. Awards will be mailed to all 2020 winners following the program. Questions about the banquet can be directed to Kelly Young at Kelly.Young@gaming.ny.gov. From the New Jersey Sire Stakes

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - The New York Sire Stakes (NYSS) and USTA District 8 will be hosting a virtual awards banquet, streamed live on Facebook on Nov. 8. The program will begin at 7 p.m. and will be approximately one hour in duration. Kelly Young, executive director of the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund, will serve as emcee, and Todd Haight, District 8 Chairman, will unveil the Horse of the Year. The program can be accessed through the NYSS Facebook page. The evening will honor champion horses, trainers, drivers, owners and breeders of the NYSS, Excelsior Series and the New York County Fair Series. USTA District 8 Awards for Horse of the Year, Trainer of the Year and Drivers of the Year will be announced live as part of the broadcast. Horses voted for year-end honors by USTA District 8 will also be recognized. "While we can't all be together and celebrate the season in the usual manner, we do not want to miss the opportunity to honor and recognize our champion horses and horsepeople who make our program so competitive," said Young. "We are excited to offer this format and hope our racing community will collectively gather around their screens on this night to celebrate the outstanding performances of this unique year." "On behalf the USTA Directors of District 8, I am pleased to partner again with the New York Sire Stakes to offer a joint celebration of Empire State people and horses," said Haight. "It has been a year of tremendous challenges, but we are resolute in not allowing that to overshadow the outstanding performers of this season. I hope many of the members of USTA District 8 will join us for the live event to cheer on our colleagues and remember how much we have overcome in 2020." Giveaways will also be presented to two lucky winners throughout the night during the Facebook live event. Tune in during the program to see how you can win. Awards for horses and people will be mailed to all 2020 winners following the program. Questions about the banquet can be directed to Kelly Young at Kelly.Young@gaming.ny.gov or call the NYSS office at 518-388-0178. From the New York Sire Stakes

If anyone chooses to buy into The Jockey Club mandates imposed upon harness racing; that seek to shove this Federal bill down our throats based upon what they think is good for us because it's good for them, then I guess we could be satisfied with whatever The Jockey Club comes up with. Further, if one so believes, then one should be counted with those who believe that the USTA has not been negotiating, or not expending a great deal of effort for the best interest of its membership and our industry. You can believe that the hundreds of hours expended by USTA officers, directors, staff, lobbyists and counsel over the last three years has been nonexistent from the debate to negotiation stages on this Federal Bill. Blindly believe as anyone chooses but the reality is that simply is not true. Besides working to achieve recognition for the differences in our breed, bet you didn’t know that the USTA has been actively negotiating with thoroughbred interests even on a state level for recognition in regulations suited to our industry. The USTA has been pro active negotiating for our breed on state and federal levels, which work it has put front and center as its priority to protect the harness racing industry.   Just to give you an idea of what has also been taking place on the state level while we worked for similar goals on the National level. The concept of a National Racing Compact was advanced in a number of states that would have put us under thoroughbred umbrella similar to what the  Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act will also do as a practical matter. That effort was initially and forcefully opposed by harness horsemen’s associations. Then with the aid of the USTA, a compromise was not only suggested, but crafted for the good of the harness industry. The USTA worked and actually drafted a state bill that would have put harness into the National Compact on the same footing as the thoroughbred industry. That would be with the statutory recognition that harness would have a separate state commission-appointed delegate to the Compact. That each breed would have separate delegates and each breed would be recognized for its differences and its unique performance model. The delegates would not be bound by, but would take input on medication rules regulations  from the separate breed representatives and enact regulations suited to each breed as those delegates saw fit. Under the National Racing Compact compromise offered by the USTA, the harness delegation could not force any regulations on the thoroughbreds, or vice versa, unless the other breed’s delegates consented. For example, if a regulation’s withdrawal time and threshold level was scientifically shown to have applicability to each breed, the other breed’s delegates could adopt it. Regulations would not be forced upon a breed that did not fit its own performance model. Unfortunately, while the Compact was deemed to work well for the thoroughbreds, when an offer was made for the same formula for harness separately, negotiations broke off despite all our work. What  the USTA sought in those negotiations was a simple equal and fair agreement on National Racing Compact legislation that would be as fair and acceptable to the harness industry as it was for the thoroughbred industry. Simply, everything was the same in the statute that was applicable to them would be applicable to our industry, but on a parallel line. Naively we thought that this should get a done deal. It seemed fair, after all we race more than they do and our vets treat our horses quite differently often doing multiple joints bilaterally. The USTA’s work was rejected by the thoroughbreds. No reason given. Over many months and before the new version of the “Integrity” Act of 2020 popped up, harness offered that deal on the National Compact in our negotiations. The same kind of effort was put into the Federal Bill but with even greater intensity and work. The thoroughbred representatives refused any negotiation and the USTA received the very same response it was getting to the Compact offer it made. This despite the harness industry’s efforts spearheaded by the USTA over the last three years and 300 hours of meetings to factor fairness for our breed into the Federal bill. The result, the same, No deal. The thoroughbreds, one has to think, will benefit from our payments under the new Federal bill based upon our number of starts as compared to theirs and at a cost to our horsemen of initially $50 per start. Much of our money will be for studying how to prevent thoroughbred breakdowns by improving racing surfaces. Additionally, the cause for removing Lasix is based upon the fiction that the therapeutic medication is the cause of those breakdowns and the further fiction that it masks other medications, when today we can find medications down to the picogram in most horses on Lasix.  Safety and Integrity are nice buzz words… but don’t be fooled, because all the 2020 Act will provide the harness industry is a massive fee assessment towards the cure of someone else’s problems, and a brand new set of regulations that will provide solace for the pet peeves of someone else’s industry, and the potential destruction of ours. The USTA is not so naive to think that once this law is passed, if indeed it might be, that somehow our negotiations will continue and the USTA will succeed in achieving fairness for our members. Make no mistake, once enacted we will pay under this law in many ways. With 1 seat at a table of 27 and you can see the degree of input we will have in effectuating necessary reforms in either the law or its application. For those who think differently, one can only wish you are correct. Our experience teaches us differently. From Joe Faraldo, chairman of USTA District 8A  

The North American Harness Horse Alliance (NAHHA) is an alliance of associations from across North America that have been established to represent the interests of participants involved in the breeding, training, and racing of Standardbred horses. Honest, hardworking, and reputable North American Harness Horsemen are unhappy with the status quo. They want a level playing field and want to take care of their equine partners appropriately as directed and managed by their veterinarian. That care requires therapeutic medications that are beneficial to their equine partners, that protect their health, and ensure longevity. Throughout the years the Jockey Club backed Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) and Association of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) have spent time and money eliminating and criminalizing beneficial therapeutic medications that are not detrimental to equine athletes. These tactics have been aided by misleading terminology talking about “drugging” or “positive tests” and painting a false picture of widescale abuse. Accredited labs have honed testing capabilities down to nanograms and picograms, the rough equivalent of finding a grain of sand in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Significantly more often these “positive tests” are therapeutic overages, endogenous substances (naturally occur in a horse), or environmental contaminates in a barely calculatable quantity that cast a shadow of doubt and accusation. The reality is a grain of sand in a 1,000 pound racehorse does not induce a performance enhancing effect. As that has occurred, the nefarious among the horseman’s population have been pushed further into the illegal, black market to serious and significant substances and methods that are not only illegal, but unfortunately also highly detrimental to our equine partners. The nefarious minority have taken up and consumed 95% of the time and money of regulators and others to the detriment of the honest, hardworking, and reputable North American Harness Horsemen that do play by the rules for the sake of our equine partners. Every industry has this sort of framework, it is not unique to racing. There are always those that cannot fly straight no matter the industry. Robert Rubin ex-Chairman at Goldman Sachs, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling of Enron fame, Richard Scrushy ex-CEO of Health South, Dennis Kozlowski, ex-CEO of Tyco, and in a slightly different vein, Harvey Weinstein. The United States Trotting Association (USTA) has pursued a tireless and costly crusade to differentiate the standardbred racehorse from a thoroughbred racehorse. Standardbreds have a distinct gait, racing style, breed characteristics, and longevity. Initially a Member of ARCI, the USTA pursued an agenda to separate and distinguish standardbreds and harness racing, but by 2013 after a million-dollar investment, they pulled out of By 2015, the USTA put together distinguished scientists, regulatory pharmacologists, professors and practicing veterinarians to form the Harness Racing Medication Committee. By the end of 2018, the USTA’s scientific team had published research showing that the RMTC threshold levels for clenbuterol and betamethasone (therapeutics) were not based upon science or manufacturer’s recommendation, but rather arbitrary policy. The USTA presented their HRMC standardbred specific research to the RMTC, requesting harness racing specific regulation. The USTA was given an audience, but the RMTC acting as the ARCI’s decision maker, rejected all facts, science, and separate treatment. A continuation of the narrative and treatment that occurred while spending millions as an RMTC/ARCI Member with a seat at the table. The RMTC/ARCI thoroughbred initiatives were not up for discussion or modification. Harness racing as a business and completely different breed, would be forced to conform to the thoroughbred standards, protocols, and model rules. Since 2015 through several different precursor Bills to HISA, the USTA has lobbied countless hours in Washington D.C. seeking separate and distinct federal regulation for standardbred racehorses and harness racing. As with the RMTC/ARCI model rules prior, the thoroughbred backed legislation was not up for discussion or modification to accommodate harness racing. Harness racing as a business and completely different breed would be forced to conform to thoroughbred standards, protocols, and now federal regulation. The National Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association (31,000 members), AQHA (221,000 members), the National Association of Racetrack Veterinarians, and others oppose HISA. The USTA has been the most active and aggressive in defense of our industry spending $450,000 with Gibson Dunn, the firm that successfully overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), resulting in sports wagering legalization by states nationwide. The Horseracing Safety and Integrity Act Opposition HISA establishes the Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority (“Authority”) an independent, private non-profit corporation granted civil enforcement powers only with responsibility for developing and administering an anti-doping and medication control and safety program for (1) Thoroughbred, Quarter, and Standardbred horses that participate in horse races; and (2) the personnel engaged in the care, training, or racing of such horses. The entire HISA regulatory body lacks horse knowledge or experience on a more than 2-1 ratio. The Nominating Committee, Authority Board, Antidoping and Control Committee, and Racetrack Safety Committee are made up of 30 Members. 21 of those Members cannot be anyone with a connection to horses or a connection to horses through a commercial or familial relationship. The remaining 9 Members have equine knowledge, but no more than one of them can come from any individual equine discipline. Standardbred racing will be fortunate to have 1 seat on a 30 Member Authority. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, everyone is a Covered person and is required to register. There is no opt-out and includes trainer, owner, breeder, jockey, racetrack, veterinarian, and “person (whether legal and natural) licensed by a racing commission”, and their agents, assigns, employees, and other horse support personnel. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, any Covered person must provide any items requested by the Authority for the purpose of increased racehorse welfare. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, HISA applies to all horses that have had their first timed and reported work at a training center or racetrack until the Authority is officially notified of the horse being retired. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, horses must be raced free from the influence of medications, other foreign substances, and methods. This includes Lasix. There is no regard for therapeutic care. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, veterinarians are required to treat horses with “the minimum necessary to address the diagnosed health concerns identified during the examination and diagnostic process”. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, veterinarians are to ignore their professional training, manufacturer’s instructions and recommended dosage for effective treatment. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, treatment or administration of any substance or method by a veterinarian is required to be reported to the Authority. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, HISA expands medication and testing violations to include medications, other substances, or methods that affect performance. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, there is no burden on the regulator to prove performance enhancement and an unfair advantage to the detriment of the public wagering on that race. A trainer is absolutely liable with no defense for any impact or change in a horse’s performance, good, bad, or indifferent. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, medication, testing, and enforcement rules will come from the strictest among the, (1) International Federation of Horseracing Authorities screening limits for urine May 2019, (2) International Federation of Horseracing Authorities International screening limits for plasma May 2019, or (3) World Anti-doping Agency International Standards for Labs from 11/12/2019, or (4) ARCI Model Rules v.9.2 or ARCI Penalty Model Rules of Racing v.6.2. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, HISA permits In Competition and Out of Competition Testing without any advance notice. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, HISA implements the exact same mechanism in place now in any State for enforcement, civil charges, civil investigation, civil subpoena powers with civil sanctions as a penalty. Penalty provisions provide for participant suspensions (up to a lifetime), purse payback, monetary fines, and finish placing disqualifications. HISA does not include federal enforcement of any type. No criminal investigation techniques (i.e., prospective wiretaps), criminal penalties, or criminal sanctions like jail time. No Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, or Food and Drug Administration involvement. The FTC will exercise enforcement for horses sold, if the horse was administered bisphosphate before turning four years old or the horse has been administered any other substance or method that has a degradation effect on a horse before it is sold. The cost for HISA cannot be calculated. Within 48 hours after passage from the effective date, HISA funding will be determined by the “Authority” itself. Not only does the Authority give themselves a blank check for initial, continual funding, and registration fees paid by “covered persons”, they also have absolute authority to take out loans of any dollar amount that must be paid back pro-rata by each State and State Racing Commission on a yearly basis. In addition to those unknown costs, they have a blank slate for the dollar amount of civil fines they can levy against violators. HISA forces the expensive duplication of the same civil system in place for regulation and enforcement at the state level. If passed, HISA will devastate the standardbred racing business nationwide. From the North American Harness Horse Alliance

Columbus, OH — Harness racing horseman Lon Frocione, 88, who served for 15 years on the USTA board of directors, representing District 8, died Oct. 21, 2020. Mr. Frocione was first elected to the USTA Board in 1987, serving five years; he was re-elected to the Board in 1997, serving an additional 10 years. Mr. Frocione became interested in the Standardbred sport in 1959 after having met several racing fans while working as a salesman. He adopted their interest and soon became an owner, trainer and driver. He had a deep interest in amateur driving and in 2006 represented the United States in Italy in the World Cup of Amateur Driving. He was also the founder of the Women’s International Trot, showcasing the finest female drivers from the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, England and Ireland. Easily his best known horse over the years was Sportsmaster p,2,1:52.1 ($755,803), who won the 1991 Woodrow Wilson and went on to sire the winners of nearly $104 million. Mr. Frocione was inducted into the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. He was a former president of the Harness Horse Association of Central New York, and was named Harness Horsemen International’s Man of the Year in 1988. In addition, Mr. Frocione served as a director of the Morrisville College Foundation and was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Monticello-Goshen Chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Mr. Frocione was the owner of Deli-Boy, Inc., Food for Thought, Food Features and Camillus Hills Developments. He also served as a director of Solvay Bank. Arrangements will be posted when available. From the USTA Media Department

On Oct. 19 Harnesslink received a letter from Lenna Terrill, a former groom and licensed trainer who expressed concerns about the elimination of freeze brands. You can read her letter by clicking here. The following response was received today from Mike Tanner, Executive Vice President/Chief Executive Officer of the United States Trotting Association. Harnesslink appreciates all letters and responses sent to us and will make every effort possible to see that they are published. Dear Leena, Thank you for sharing your feelings regarding microchipping, which we do take seriously.  Microchips were approved at the 2018 annual meeting of the USTA Board of Directors, and first implemented with the foal crop of 2019.  While recognizing the concerns that you raise, the Board concluded that using microchips as the means of Standardbred identification is less invasive and painful to the horse, allows for internal temperature monitoring by caretakers, aligns with the standards employed by other American breeds (most notably the Thoroughbreds) and around the racing world,  and provides the best, most accurate way to identify Standardbreds.     Every week, our Member Services team fields calls from folks trying to identify freeze brand tattoo numbers that are either obscured or have been deliberately obfuscated. In almost every case, these requests involve horses that are older and have long left the racetrack. I recognize that no system of identification, microchips included, is perfect.  Moreover, as someone who has visited the auctions to see what goes on there and, along with my wife, owns and cares for a retired Standardbred racehorse, I share your feelings about the need to prioritize aftercare for our equine athletes when their days of competition have ended.    The Association remains committed to working with accredited rescue groups and concerned individuals to assist in the identification of Standardbreds in need, and to help get chip readers into the hands of those who will use them in these efforts. Best regards, Mike Tanner, USTA

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