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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 and 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 13th annual U.S. Trotting Association Speaker Series, presented by the Harness Racing FanZone, at the Delaware (Ohio) County Fair will be held on Wednesday and Thursday mornings before the Jugette (Sept. 18) and Little Brown Jug (Sept. 19), respectively. The 2019 edition will feature some of the sport's best drivers and trainers as well as a trio of analysts and Hall of Fame all-time leading driver and current executive John Campbell. This year's lineup is: Wednesday, Sept. 18 9 a.m. - Driver Brett Miller and Trainer Scott Blackler 10 a.m. - Driver Chris Page and Trainer Ron Burke Thursday, Sept. 19 8 a.m. - Handicapping with Roger Huston, Dave Brower and Wendy Ross 9 a.m. - Trainers Tony Alagna, Casie Coleman and Bill MacKenzie 10 a.m. - Hambletonian Society President and CEO John Campbell (Schedule subject to change) From the USTA Communications Department  

When the Standardbreds (Harness Racing) instituted Breeding Limits and what happened? When The Jockey Club proposed last week a limit to the numbers of mares a stallion could be bred to, Russell Williams, the president of the United States Trotting Association (USTA) had many thoughts, among them, “What took you so long?” Williams, who is also the president of Hanover Shoe Farms, by far the largest breeder in harness racing, was the one who led the charge to have similar rules enacted by the USTA, the Standardbred equivalent of The Jockey Club. He started to call for limits on the amount of mares a stallion could be bred to as far back as 2004. Starting in 2009, no new Standardbred stallion was allowed to breed to more than 140 mares. That’s the same number being proposed by The Jockey Club. Because there are roughly one third as many Standardbreds bred in the U.S. each year as there are Thoroughbreds, the problems of in-breeding were more dire for the trotters and pacers. The breeding industry was dominated by a handful of top stallions, some of whom were sent to 200 or more mares a year. There was not a lot of science available at the time, but you didn’t need to be an expert in the field of genetics to realize this could cause serious problems. “I was the instigator,” said Williams, who, at the time was a vice president at Hanover and on the USTA Board of Directors. “I felt we might be breeding ourselves into a corner and we needed to look a that.” The USTA commissioned a study by Dr. Gus Cothran of the University of Kentucky. Cothran concluded that the Standardbred gene pool was becoming less diverse, and that the breed would suffer in the future because of that lack of diversity. “Cothran, he did a study for us to assess the loss of heterozygosity in the Standardbred breed,” Williams said. “He looked at both pacers and trotters and he calculated we were going to breed ourselves into a corner if we kept on going with unlimited books.” Heterozygosity has been defined as “overall genetic diversity in an individual that can then be averaged over the entire population–or in this case, the breed.” Williams said that the breeding industry was already seeing a rise in the amount of horses born with Osteochondritis Dissecans problems (OCD), as well as an increase in fertility problems, but it was more the fear of the unknown that had the sport worried. Certainly, too much in-breeding was likely to lead to a less healthy horse. “When I was growing up you did not see cancer in horses,” Williams said. “You just didn’t see it and (top pacing stallion) Somebeachsomewhere died of cancer (in January of 2018) at the age of 13, half the age you’d expect a horse to die at. What’s going on? Situations like that show you how careful you have to be.” It took a few years from the time Cothran’s study was completed until the USTA implemented its new rules, but once they went into effect the industry has not looked back. In fact, some believe 140 is still too high a number and have called for the number to be reduced to 100. As expected, some breeders objected and sued. The same could happen in Thoroughbred racing if The Jockey Club goes through with its proposal. Williams said the lawsuits went nowhere, a factor The Jockey Club’s lawyers are likely well aware of. Williams said antitrust lawsuits were filed alleging restraint of trade by the USTA and Williams was among those deposed. He said that once the depositions began it became so clear that the plaintiffs had no case against the USTA and the lawsuits were dropped. “I had contacted lawyers with what is probably the best antitrust law firm in the country and the lawyers there gave us their opinion that we were OK,” Williams said. “He said there were no antitrust problems with doing this. Basically, if you do something which is a burden on commerce but it is not done for commercial reasons but rather for scientific reasons that benefit an industry you can do it.” He said most people in the industry already understood that in-breeding was a problem that had to be dealt with and didn’t object to the rule changes. “Most people were very good about this,” he said. “They felt in their hearts a dedication to the breed and saw the value to this. A feeling persisted that this is good for our horses, so we’re OK with it.” Ironically, Hanover had more to lose than perhaps any other entity in the sport. It has been the annual leading breeder in the sport for as many years as the USTA has been keeping records and was among the guilty parties when it came to breeding their stallions to huge books of mares. “At Hanover, we were clearly hurt by this,” Williams said. “It was one of those situations where, as a USTA director I had a potential conflict of interest, but, because I took a position contrary to my economic interests it was a moot point.” At least for now, Williams is not in favor of lowering the number of mares a stallion can be bred to any further. He said there’s no reason to make any changes until the results of on-going research into the Standardbred genome are completed. A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. In time, when the full make up of the DNA of a Standardbred is available to breeders, people will be able to make breeding decisions equipped with scientific data that will give them the ability to avoid problems that could be caused by in-breeding. The USTA is strongly opposed to the Horse Racing Integrity Act, which is being pushed hard by The Jockey Club, so the two organizations are often at odds. But when it comes to The Jockey Club’s attempts to limit book sizes, Williams believes it is on the right track. “This may be the only thing I agree with them on, but, yes, definitely, I believe what they are trying to do is important and the right thing to do,” he said. By Bill Finley Reprinted with permission of The Thoroughbred Daily News

Hightstown, NJ — Adios winner Southwind Ozzi found a spot in the top 10 and Clara Barton winner Shartin N remained No. 1 in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll. Southwind Ozzi joined the top 10 for the first time this season, landing at No. 10. Shartin N, who won the Clara Barton with the fastest pacing mile in Plainridge Park history, 1:49.1, stayed solidly entrenched in the top spot with 33 of 35 first-place votes and a 66-point cushion over No. 2 Atlanta. Millies Possesion, who is unbeaten in eight races, moved from No. 10 to No. 8 thanks to her win in her Hambletonian Oaks elimination. No other horses in the top 10 raced last week. The Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, which runs weekly through November, does not determine Horse of the Year. The members of the U.S. Harness Writers Association vote on all Dan Patch Award division winners plus Trotter of the Year, Pacer of the Year and Horse of the Year. Rankings based on the votes of harness racing media representatives on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Standardbred Poll: Week 10 – 7/30/2019 Rank Name (First Place Votes) Age/Gait/Sex Record Earnings Points Pvs 1 Shartin N (33) 6pm 12-11-0-0 $655,765 347 1 2 Atlanta (1) 4tm 7-6-1-0 $438,330 281 2 3 Greenshoe (1) 3tc 5-4-1-0 $326,500 276 3 4 Lather Up 4ph 9-6-0-1 $411,405 233 4 5 Bettor’s Wish 3pc 7-5-2-0 $554,630 157 5 6 Captain Crunch 3pc 6-4-0-0 $511,574 156 6 7 Gimpanzee 3tc 3-3-0-0 $161,688 108 7 8 Millies Possesion  3tf 8-8-0-0 $195,517 63 10 9 Hannelore Hanover 7tm 5-3-0-0 $79,282 60 8 10 Southwind Ozzi 3pr 6-5-1-0 $291,921 45 -- ALSO: Stonebridge Soul 36; Best In Show 32; McWicked, Western Fame 16; Guardian Angel As 13; Evident Beauty 9; Caviart Ally 8; Boadicea, When Dovescry 6; Rich And Miserable 5; Bettor Joy N, None Bettor A, Highalator, JK First Lady, Pilot Discretion, Shake That House, Tequila Monday, This Is The Plan 4; Crystal Fashion, Green Manalishi S, Sister Sledge, Six Pack 3; Courtly Choice, Jimmy Freight, Workin Ona Mystery 2; Mr Vicktor, Warrawee Ubeaut 1.

Columbus, OH -- This week leading up to the $1 million Hambletonian at The Meadowlands on Saturday, the USTA is producing a video series of the leading contenders in the race. The "Road to the Hambletonian" is presented by the Hambletonian Society and the daily videos can be viewed by clicking on the banner on the homepage of or by clicking here. Hosted by the USTA's Wendy Ross and Michael Carter, each video will feature footage from farms and training centers and will include interviews with the connections of the top horses scheduled to compete in the 94th Hambletonian this weekend. The $1 million Hambletonian will be part of the live CBS Sports Network broadcast this Saturday from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT). From the USTA Media Department  

The Standardbred Transition Alliance is seeking an administrator for the 501(c)3 charitable organization. Interested applicants are reminded to respond by Wednesday (July 31) for consideration. An administrator will be responsible for working closely with the Board of Directors to manage all functions of the organization, including fundraising, accreditation and granting, and communication. Please see a full job description here. Applicants should send a cover letter detailing compensation requirements and resume to Questions may also be sent to this email address. The STA has a mission to award grants to approved organizations that acquire, rehabilitate, train and re-home Standardbred horses. It was established in 2018 and is modeled after a similar Thoroughbred organization. Applicants may be subjected to a background check. The STA is an equal opportunity employer. From the Standardbred Transition Alliance

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Some harness racing fans are not satisfied with just watching the races from rail, they want to be on the other side — and in the driver’s seat — and they can! Many enthusiasts, both men and women are part of amateur harness racing clubs in the tri-state area. Most have day jobs but on weekends they trade business attire for racing colors. According to the United States Trotting Association website: “An amateur driver is a driver who has not received valuable compensation for his or her services as a driver. To participate in amateur driving events, the person must hold a driver's license issued by the United States Trotting Association.". Most amateur drivers donate the percent of the purse money won that a driver would normally receive, to charity, raising money for a variety of good causes. While there are races restricted to amateurs, the amateurs can and often do compete against the pros. For esample, Mal Burroughs, then of Flemington, N.J., won the harness racing’s most prestigious race for trotters — the Hambletonian with Malabar Man in 1997. Only one other amateur has won that race since it started in 1926. The other was Harrison Hoyt, who won it in 1948. The Hambletonian with Malabar Man in 1997 However, it doesn't have to be a world class stakes race to be fun. New Jerseyan, Matt Zuccarello, a Field Sales Representative for Herr Foods Inc. by day, fell in love with harness racing when he attended the races as a kid with his father, at the legendary Roosevelt Raceway on Long Island. “I love so many things including the excitement, speed (even though it feels like slow motion at times), strategy, and camaraderie among all the amateurs. When you win a race and get your picture taken in the winner’s circle, especially surrounded by friends and family, it is awesome!” Over Memorial Day weekend at the Meadowlands, Zuccarello just missed getting his picture taken in the winner’s circle, finishing second in a division of the GSY Amateur Driving Club series. Zuccarello also competes with the North American Amateur Drivers Association and the CKG Billings series, and in a total of 16 starts this year he has two seconds and two thirds. Since 2012 he has raced 347 times, won 12, as second 34 times and was third 39 times. Anthony Verruso, a Flight Attendant for Jetblue Airways also just missed winning the CKG Billings trot at the Meadowlands on May 25 — by a head. Just because they are amateurs, doesn’t mean they are any less competitive than the pros. In 2019 Verruso has won twice and finished second five times in 14 starts with his most recent win at Monticello Raceway in New York. “It is an experience like no other. Racing at high speeds in such tight quarters and having to make split second decisions is as exhilarating as anything you could ever do. And there is no feeling like sweeping a field up the back side and opening lengths to win a race,” Verruso said. He is also president of the Delvin Miller Amateur Drivers' Association which runs the Billings series which will conclude in November with the top point earners earning a start in the final. Verruso was introduced to racing a t a young age. “My Dad was a workout clocker and went to Roosevelt and Yonkers every night for what was my entire life. He told me I could go with him if I got A's in school. So I did and he took me on a regular basis from when I was 10 years old. I learned to clock the workouts too but from those early days on I wanted to be Carmine Abbatiello,” he said referring to the professional driver who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986. For Anthony Beltrami, a state trial judge for the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, Pa., driving in races is a welcome change of pace. He loves, “that I get to do something that is really fun and totally different from anything else I do.” His father owned harness horses as long as he can remember. “Before I went to law school, I worked as a groom for Earl Beal, Jr. and David Rovine. Several years ago, I got my trainer's and driver's licenses.” This year he has two wins, a second and a third from eight starts. Men and women compete on equal terms in harness racing. Hannah Miller, not only competes with the men, she often beats them. She was the first woman to earn National Amateur Driver of the Year honors in 2015.  The next year she represented the United States in the amateur World Cup in Budapest, Hungary. So how does one get started in amateur harness racing? Zuccarello said, “I told my dad that one day I wanted to drive and own horses. Years later, I took a class in Delaware, Ohio, where the Little Brown Jug is raced at, was connected to a trainer, Dennis Laterza and his son, who I still have horses with, learned how to clean stalls, jog horses, train and equip them, and I was hooked.” Zuccarello suggests attending the USTA driving school, although none are scheduled for 2019, check for 2020 opportunities. Next, Zuccarello said, “get connected with a local trainer near where you live to learn everything about the industry. Once you get this experience under your belt, I would suggest purchasing an inexpensive horse to use for qualifiers while also networking with other trainers and try to secure as many qualifying drives as you can and this will help you work your way towards getting your amateur license.” “You need to start from the ground up. Find an old time guy who likes to impart knowledge and listen to what he says. Don't just go and jump in the seat and think you can drive. First learn to muck a stall. Then understand how to put on the equipment. Jogging would be the next progression and finally going training miles. From there try to get drives in qualifiers to obtain a license. In my opinion, that is the best road to success,” Verruso said. “Find a trainer/stable that you can work for and start out as a groom — hopefully one that can eventually jog and train the horses you care for. Be willing to put in long hours and to learn as much as you can along the way, said Beltrami. See for more information on local clubs. For the younger set, the Harness Horse Youth Foundation offers summer camps at area tracks and training centers. At the camps kids learn to care for and drive Trottingbred ponies, miniature versions of Standardbreds.Several former campers have gone on to become professionals. By Lillian Shupe Reprinted with permission of Tap Into Plainfield      

Columbus, OH - The U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) strongly opposes the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019 (S. 1820), which was introduced Wednesday (June 12) by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The legislation is bad for harness racing, horse racing, and the health and welfare of horses. "At a time in which the industry is focused on preventing deaths, this legislation will have the opposite effect, and more horses will die," said USTA President Russell Williams. The legislation seeks to ban the use of a race-day, therapeutic medication called Lasix. Lasix is endorsed by veterinarians as the only known treatment for Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPH), a disease that causes bleeding in the lungs of a racehorse. Both the American Association of Equine Practitioners and North American Association of Racetrack Veterinarians support the use of Lasix and oppose the legislation. The bill also increases the cost of regulation and threatens the livelihoods of USTA members. "This newly-created regulatory body will have to impose additional fees and costs on the industry because it will receive no federal funding. Harness racing horsemen will be hit particularly hard because most of them are working-class people," added Williams. "It will drive many of them out of the business." According to a recent American Horse Council study, the racing industry contributes $36 billion annually to the national economy and provides 240,000 direct jobs. Any measure that will add further regulatory and cost burdens will only harm those state and local economies that depend on the industry. Finally, the proposed legislation would federalize horse racing and place it under the control of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), adding an unnecessary layer of oversight to the current state-based system. It would create an unelected, national board that specifically prohibits current owners, trainers, drivers, and practicing veterinarians from serving on it. Williams questioned, "Why an unelected board at the FTC would be better at regulating horse racing than those that know our industry best is beyond me." While the recent deaths in California are alarming, and more research needs to be done on what caused the tragedies, the proposed legislation would not have prevented a single death. Instead of working to reduce deaths in the industry, this legislation covers up the problem by pointing the finger at so-called "rampant doping" in the industry. Test results prove that doping is not a problem. In 2018, the Anti-Doping and Drug Testing Program conducted by U.S. racing regulatory bodies and compiled by the Association of Racing Commissioners International found that 99.4 percent of all racehorses were compliant with the rules. The "clear" rate for Standardbred horses was even higher at 99.71 percent. The USTA strongly opposes the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019 (S. 1820) and encourages all industry participants and racing fans to contact their U.S. Senator to express their opposition to Senator Gillibrand's proposed legislation.   Ken Weingartner

The Standardbred Transition Alliance (STA) has been approved as a charitable entity by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), ensuring all donations to the group are deductible from federal taxes. The STA is also registered as a charitable entity with the Secretary of State and Attorney General in Ohio, where it was incorporated. "We are very pleased to have the designation process complete and look forward to the important work of accrediting and granting to groups that assist Standardbreds in transitioning to careers apart from their traditional use," said STA President David Reid. "In the coming weeks, we will be introducing a website and more details about our work in the coming year."   on behalf of the Standardbred Transition Alliance      

Columbus, OH — The following is a statement from the United States Trotting Association regarding the scratch of Bettor Joy N at Miami Valley Raceway on Monday (May 6). The U.S. Trotting Association is aware of and disappointed by the Ohio State Racing Commission’s eleventh-hour scratch of Bettor Joy N from the Sam “Chip” Noble III Memorial this afternoon at Miami Valley Raceway. It has been conveyed to us that this was done because Bettor Joy N, while microchipped, did not possess a freeze brand. The USTA approved the use of microchips for identification purposes at its March 2018 Board of Directors meeting, and alerted all state racing commissions as to this change in policy shortly thereafter. Specifically, foals of 2019 and beyond are required to be microchipped. Starting in 2021, all Standardbred horses competing at United States racetracks will be required to have a microchip, including those that were previously freeze branded. Bettor Joy N does not have a freeze brand. She is a New Zealand import and was microchipped after her arrival in the United States in December 2018. We have had numerous conversations, starting early last summer and as recently as late last month, with the Ohio State Racing Commission about this rule, and were left with the impression that there were no objections to it nor confusion about its application. All Ohio racetracks, including Miami Valley, were provided with microchip readers free of charge as part of their USTA membership benefits. We are particularly dismayed by third-party reports indicating that Bettor Joy N was allowed to be treated with Lasix at the appointed time, and that only afterward was it conveyed that she would not be allowed to participate in the Noble. Standardbred horse identification is central to the USTA’s mandate, and an area in which we have significant expertise, responsibility, and experience. Rule changes are deliberated and voted upon by a board of 60 directors — including eight from Ohio — who represent all facets of the industry. Moreover, our outreach to alert and educate the industry about the microchip rule change has been steady and ongoing for 15 months. We have experienced no similar issues with any other jurisdiction regarding the introduction of microchips, and we remain available to work with the OSRC to ensure that this scenario does not repeat itself. from the USTA Communications Department

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

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