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Lexington, KY — is reporting that horseman Jay Sears, a consummate horseman and father of Hall of Fame driver Brian Sears, died Sunday night at age 78. Mr. Sears, who lived on a farm in Osteen, Fla., on the St. John’s River, had been working on his farm just days earlier. Mr. Sears was the son of horseman Gene Sears and followed in his father’s footsteps. After graduating from high school in Indianapolis, Ind., Mr. Sears began working for his father full-time, before moving on to a groom’s position for trainer Joe O’Brien. Mr. Sears went out on his own in 1961, and it was in that year he drove his first winner at Monticello Raceway. At age 22 in 1963, he became one of the youngest ever to drive a two-minute mile when he won with Georgia Red in 2:00 at Hollywood Park. Mr. Sears’ career then flourished, as he set up shop at Vernon Downs in the summer months and Pompano Park in the winter, where his children, Brian and daughter Jennifer, attended schools. While Mr. Sears raced many stakes colts in the prime of his career, in the later years of his life he and his second wife, Kim, concentrated on Florida-breds and campaigned many “Sunshine” stakes winners. In addition, in 2007-2008 Mr. Sears developed the pacing filly Native Bride, who in 2008 won the Garnsey Memorial, Matron and a Breeders Crown elimination. Native Bride was driven by his son, Brian, putting the father-son in the winner’s circle together. Mr. Sears was inducted into the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1992. His father, Gene, joined him three years later in 1995. Mr. Sears also was active as a leader in the Florida harness racing community, serving as president of the Florida Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association. Sears was elected to the U.S. Trotting Association Board of Directors in 1992 and served 25 years before retiring in 2016. From

Columbus, OH - Total handle, purses, wagering per race and per betting interest in the United States all increased while the number of harness racing days decreased slightly in 2019 compared to 2018, according to the United States Trotting Association. Total wagering increased by $48,525,862 (3.53 percent) from $1,376,360,696 in 2018 to $1,424,886,558 in 2019. On average, the amount bet per race in 2019 was $39,991, a 4.54 percent increase from $38,253 the year before, and the average wagered per betting interest increased from $4,850 to $5,008 in 2019, a 3.26 percent gain. Total purses distributed in 2019 were $439,546,019, which was a $10,125,350 (2.36 percent) increase from the $429,420,669 in 2018. Each of the above economic indicators showed increases despite a 1.33 percent decrease of 46 race days to 3,424 in 2019 compared to 3,470 in 2018. Following are the comparative economic indicators for U.S. harness racing from 2019 and 2018.   2019 2018 % Change Total Wagered $1,424,886,558 $1,376,360,696 +3.53% Per Race avg. $39,991 $38,253 +4.54% Per Betting Interest $5,008 $4,850 +3.26% Purses $439,546,019 $429,420,669 +2.36% Race Days 3,424 3,470 -1.33% Please note: Includes U.S. and Canadian common and separate pool wagers on races contested in the U.S. From the USTA Communications Department    

Standardbred Canada today reports that data from Standardbred Canada and the United States Trotting Association indicates that pari-mutuel wagering on harness racing posted an increase North America-wide in 2019. Numbers indicate that total wagering on Canadian racing surpassed $491.4 million in 2019, up more than 8.3 per cent from the $453.7 million total in 2018. The number of races with pari-mutuel wagering stood at 11,671 for the year, providing a per race handle of $42,303, up 9.39 per cent from 2018's per race handle of $38,672. Total purses across Canada were also up in 2019. Combined purses offered reached $119.7 million, up from the $106.6 million offered in 2018. The total wagering on harness racing at U.S. tracks in 2019 surpassed $1.42 billion, a 3.53 percent increase compared to 2018 according to statistics provided by the U.S. Trotting Association. During the past year, the $1,424,886,558 wagered on pari-mutuel harness racing stateside was up from the 2018 total of $1,376,360,696. Despite a 1.3 percent drop in race days, the average handle per race was up 4.45 per cent. The $39,991 average handle per race bested the $38,253 average posted in 2018. In addition, there was an 2.36 per cent increase in total purses awarded nationally with $439.5 million distributed in 2019 versus $429.4 million in 2018. (Please note: Includes U.S. and Canadian common and separate pool wagers on races contested in the U.S. Data source: United Tote (US) and Standardbred Canada.)

Columbus, OH - According to his wife Kristine Keller-Pawlak's Facebook page, former U.S. Trotting Association Director of Publicity John Pawlak, 71, died Dec. 27, 2019, at 10:40 p.m. "He is now with the angels and free of his pain," stated Keller-Pawlak in her Facebook post. "He fought a long and difficult battle for over six years. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends." Former USTA President Phil Langley has fond memories of his time working together with Mr. Pawlak. "No matter what the circumstance John was enthusiastic about life and especially harness racing," said Langley. "We spent many years together at the USTA and his writings and announcing always gave us a positive feeling about our sport. He was at his best at World Trotting Conferences no matter what the country and especially covering the World Driving Championship. He was so well thought of by the people from other countries they made him a life member. The last few years have been tough for John and Kris but whenever I talked to him, he was upbeat. Go in peace John!" An Ohio native, Mr. Pawlak attended Bowling Green State University, where he majored in marketing while also studying broadcasting and journalism. After graduating from Bowling Green State University in 1971, Mr. Pawlak went to work for WTOL-TV, the CBS affiliate television station in Toledo, Ohio, as a reporter and photographer. In 1973, he was promoted to sports anchor on the weekends and a sports reporter during the week but was also involved in harness racing by doing freelance jobs and voice-over work for Raceway Park. In 1978 when there were wholesale changes at his TV station, Mr. Pawlak was hired by Raceway Park and did some odd jobs until he took over the announcer's job in March 1979. During his time as announcer, he also assisted the track's publicist with promotions, advertising and public relations. After about a year, he was named the publicist at Raceway Park and eventually traded in his announcer's microphone to focus on his publicity and marketing duties. Mr. Pawlak joined the USTA in 1985 as the director of publicity. For his work at the USTA, he was well known for both his writing and editing as well as his broadcasting. He was responsible for compiling and editing The Trotting & Pacing Guide, the definitive annual fact book on North American harness racing and the historical USTA Directors book. With his television background, Mr. Pawlak was the face of the USTA and led the organization into the age of online video and served as the host of the USTA's popular "Eye on Harness Racing" series. Mr. Pawlak was ever present at many harness racing events including the Little Brown Jug, the annual USTA Board of Directors meetings, district meetings and county fairs. But he also was known world-wide for his work coordinating the biennial World Driving Championship and the World Trotting Conference. Mr. Pawlak retired from the USTA in 2013. After a career that spanned 35 years, Mr. Pawlak was inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame in 2014. In addition to his induction into the Hall of Fame, the multiple award-winning Mr. Pawlak won the North American Harness Publicist's Golden Pen Award in 1993, the Harness Horsemen International's 2010 Clyde Hirt Media Award and in 2011 was voted a lifetime member of the International Trotting Association, one of only 20 individuals to receive that honor in the 30-year history of that group. From the USTA Media Department  

HARRISBURG, PA - Nicholas J. Saponara, a member of the Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame, and a past president of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, an organization to which he belonged for 57 years, passed away on Saturday after health issues. A graduate of Northeast Catholic High School in Philadelphia in 1957, that same year Saponara joined the sports department of the Philadelphia Bulletin, at that time the major evening newspaper of the Greater Philadelphia metro area. He worked for the Bulletin for 25 years, and he served as the handicapper and morning line oddsmaker for the tracks covered by the Bulletin, also making the official track morning line at Brandywine, Liberty Bell, Atlantic City Harness, and the Keystone thoroughbred track. Saponara was a co-founder of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Harness Writers in 1962, and served many years as the chapter's secretary. He served as national President of USHWA for three years, 1980-1983, and sat on the association Board of Directors for 29 years. Nick was also the driving force in spreading the annual national awards dinner beyond its traditional New York City home, and was the organizer behind many successful events, notably having the famed Philadelphia Mummers perform at an Atlantic City gathering. Saponara was also a harness horse owner, along with longtime friend Marv Bachrad. They entrusted their horses to an up-and-coming French-Canadian horsemen named Herve Filion, and they enjoyed the success rate that Herve enjoyed as a rising comet in the sport. Saponara also owned thoroughbred horses, and was a member of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association board of directors. In September of 2019, Parx thoroughbred track honored Saponara with inclusion into its Hall of Fame (video link: A viewing for Mr. Saponara will take place this Wednesday, December 11, at St. Ephrem Church, 5340 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem PA, from 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. A funeral mass will follow at 11:30 a.m. Burial will take place at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 3301 W. Cheltenham Ave., Cheltenham PA. by Jerry Connors, for USHWA

Columbus, OH -- In an announcement from the Racing Medication & Testing Consortium on Wednesday (Nov. 21) regarding NSAID administration time and intra-articular injections, that organization inaccurately portrayed their relationship with the U.S. Trotting Association when they stated that, "The RMTC consists of 23 racing industry stakeholders and organizations that represent Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse and Arabian racing." "A review of the RMTC release reveals an unjustified and regrettable misrepresentation," said USTA President Russell Williams. "The RMTC does not represent the Standardbred breed in any way. Only the United States Trotting Association and the Harness Racing Medication Collaborative can speak for the Standardbred breed regarding medication issues." HRMC Chairman Joe Faraldo echoed Williams' declaration. "As chairman of the USTA's Harness Racing Medication Collaborative let me be quite clear that RMTC does NOT represent the Standardbred industry," said Faraldo. "The harness industry operates under an altogether different training regimen and is a more durable breed than our Thoroughbred counterparts," explained Faraldo. "The genesis for such a proposed rule is founded on the unfortunate reaction to the Santa Anita catastrophe, which has gathered significant negative public attention but has no relationship to any Standardbred experience. Our incidence of catastrophic breakdowns is a statistical anomaly as compared to other breeds and hence such rules such as these, should under no circumstances be made applicable to the Standardbred industry. "Rules such as these, referred to any state commission through RMTC or even RCI (Association of Racing Commissioners International), as its conduit, is not representative of rules more appropriately applicable to the harness racing industry and should therefore not be applied to it," added Faraldo. "The HRMC shall provide the state racing commissions and others with appropriate regulations that are consistent with any and all integrity concerns related to permitted, therapeutic medications whether directly or through RCI." On Sept. 25, 2013, the Executive Committee of the USTA unanimously voted to reject RCI proposed model medication rules and in a separate unanimous vote, agreed that the USTA would immediately withdraw its membership from the RMTC. "We have carefully considered the RCI proposals and have come to the conclusion that the physical characteristics of the breeds are significantly different. Trying to fit them together makes little sense," said then USTA President Phil Langley. "We believe both breeds, Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, will benefit from having rules concentrated solely on their needs." On May 8, 2018, the USTA, through the Medication Subcommittee of the USTA Board of Directors, established the HRMC, a group that includes both academic and practicing veterinarians. The HRMC's purpose is to assist in identifying and developing the scientific background for medication regulation in Standardbred racing. The USTA utilizes HRMC's reports and supporting data to present to the RCI for dissemination to regulators in the various racing commissions. From the USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH -- U.S. Trotting Association District 8 Director Bruce Tubin has resigned his position effective immediately, and the other harness racing district directors have elected Michael L. Torcello as his replacement. Torcello will make his official Board debut at the annual meeting in Columbus, OH in March 2020 and will serve the remainder of Bruce's term until the next scheduled District 8 meeting, at which time he will be able to stand for election if he so chooses. "While we are excited to have Torcello join the Board, it is with regret that we accepted Bruce Tubin's resignation," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. "Bruce discontinued a growing law practice in 1976 to pursue his first love, harness racing, and was instrumental in advancing horsemen's interests in New York and in bringing video lottery terminals to Empire State racetracks. "Beyond that, he served actively and admirably as a USTA director since being elected in 1997, including his contribution of significant time and expertise to clean up and update the USTA Rule Book in 2016-2017 as part of an ad hoc committee first assigned by former USTA President, Phil Langley," added Tanner. "We thank Bruce for his service and wish him well as he transitions away from the Association." Torcello, a Western New York Harness Horsemen's Association board member, boasts a long involvement in our sport. He was first exposed to harness racing through his uncle, Ralph Torcello, who owned Standardbreds in western New York. Currently the owner of 15 horses and a USTA member since 1979, Torcello was a trainer from 1982 through 1998 before deciding to attend law school at SUNY-Buffalo. Since graduating, Torcello has worked as an attorney at Doran & Murphy, PLLC in Buffalo, where he focuses on representing railroad workers. He is a married father of two college-aged children. His wife is an elementary school teacher in the Orchard Park, NY district. She taught third grade for years and is now a math intervention specialist. His son is attending Harvard Law School while his daughter is an undergraduate at SUNY-Geneseo. Torcello's cousin, also named Mike Torcello, is the track superintendent at Harrah's Philadelphia. From the USTA Communications Department

On Friday (Nov. 8) , Young adults in harness racing from across the country gathered in Columbus, Ohio, for the inaugural USTA Youth Delegate Summit. Seven USTA Youth Delegates participated in the two-day event, which included an evening of team-building activities, a tour of Virgil Morgan's Winners Circle Training Center, and a visit to Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway. On Saturday, delegates spent the morning learning about social media and event coverage from the USTA social media team. They then took turns practicing what they'd learned in a simulated reporting exercise with caretakers from the Brady Galliers stable. The group spent the afternoon discussing social media etiquette and the efficacy of the Youth Delegate program and heard presentations from social media coordinator Michael Carter, USTA director Gabe Wand and HHYF Executive Director Ellen Taylor. The summit concluded with an action-packed trip to Dayton Raceway. Delegates were given a special tour of the facility, met with race office personnel, and interviewed several top drivers including Chris Page, Tyler Smith, and Dan Noble. Following his interview with District 9 Youth Delegate Colin Boyle, Brett Miller gave his helmet to the young harness racing fan--a generous reward for a job well done. Serendipitously, the delegates also met and took a photo with State Representative J. Todd Smith who was visiting the racetrack, as well. "My favorite part of the summit would have to be the evening at Dayton Raceway," said 17-year-old Scarlett Wilder, the Youth Delegate Chairperson. "I'm really proud of our group and I think we performed very well. Everyone stepped up and went outside of their comfort zone, which helped this group grow tremendously." Launched in 2018, the USTA Youth Delegate program is designed to raise up young leaders in the sport of harness racing, encourage them to participate in local and regional racing-related events, and give them an opportunity to influence and shape the future of racing. The USTA Youth Delegates will next convene at the annual USTA Board of Directors meeting in Columbus, Ohio, March 13-16, 2020. From the USTA Communications Department

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - U.S. Trotting Association (USTA) District 8 has announced the winners of its 2019 year-end awards. George Ducharme has been named Trainer of the Year; Pari-Mutuel Driver of the Year is Tyler Buter; and Claude Huckabone Jr. is the County Fair Driver of the Year. Ducharme earned $705,226 in the New York Sire Stakes program this year with 113 starts. His stable was led by 3-year-old trotting filly Sensibility, who earned more than $250,000, and 2-year-old trotting colt Berkery J, who took home nearly $150,000. Ducharme was also the leading money earner at his home track, Vernon Downs, with $213,968 in purses. Overall, Ducharme's horses have banked $1,940,793 this season and he sports a .415 UTRS. Buter has $1.5 million in combined NY Sire Stakes and Excelsior earnings this season and 63 wins on the circuit. He drove New York County Fair Champions Certify (Credit Winner-Good Intentions) and Roll with Mimi (Roll With Joe-Dream of Mimi) into the winner's circle. He also steered American Mercury to a win in the $500,000 Messenger Stakes and a third-place finish in the Little Brown Jug. For the year, Buter has guided 306 winners to $5.2 million in earnings. Huckabone Jr. finished atop the New York County Fair earnings chart with $51,514 in 58 starts. He drove 2-year-old colt pacer Flow With Joe (Roll With Joe-Hidden Play) to a County Fair championship, and trained Champion 3-year-old filly pacer Roll With Mimi, whom he drove most of the season. Awards will be given at the joint NYSS and USTA District 8 Banquet at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Sunday, Nov. 10. Horse of the Year will be announced at the event. Also honored that evening will be these USTA Divisional Champions: Mr. Vicktor - 3-Year-Old Trotting Colt Owner: Robert Santagata, Jennifer Lappe, Diamond Pride and Joseph Lee Trainer: Jennifer Lappe Winndevie - 3-Year-Old Trotting Filly Owner: Purple Haze Stables Trainer: Trond Smedshammer Hickfromfrenchlick - 3-Year-Old Pacing Colt Owners: Raymond Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing and Thomas Spatorico Trainer: Ray Schnittker Brooklyn Lilacs - 3-Year-Old Pacing Filly Owner: Crawford Farms Racing Trainer: Jennifer Bongiorno Chaptiama - 2-Year-Old Trotting Colt Owners: Purple Haze Stables Trainer: Trond Smedshammer C And T's Credit - 2-Year-Old Trotting Filly Owner: Peter Barbato and Samuel Bova Trainer: John Stark Jr. Cigars And Port - 2-Year-Old Pacing Colt Owner: Raymond Schnittker, Nolamaura Racing, Theodore Gewertz and Steven Arnold Trainer: Ray Schnittker Racine Bell - 2-Year-Old Pacing Filly Owner: Chris Lawton and Dale Lawton Trainer: David Dewhurst "On behalf of our board of directors, I'd like to congratulate this year's winners," said USTA District 8 Chairman Michael Kane. "These horses and horsemen are shining examples of the level of quality coming out of this area and each has represented this district well, both at home and on the Grand Circuit. We are proud to have this opportunity each year to honor their contributions to our sport." The award winners were selected in balloting of the New York State race secretaries. Horses were selected from those with ownership in District 8. Tickets to the awards banquet are $35.00 and include reception and dinner. Special room rates are available in which banquet guests can receive 15% off a reservation at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Click here for booking information. A USTA District 8 meeting will precede the banquet and is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the hotel. Guests are asked to please RSVP no later than Monday, Nov. 4. RSVPs can be given to Sarah Quinn at or 518-694-5002. Payment should be made out and sent to: Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Fund c/o CHMS 230 Washington Avenue Extension, Suite 101 Albany, NY 12203 From the New York Sire Stakes

The Board of the Standardbred Transition Alliance (STA) is pleased to announce that Jennifer Daniels has been named its Administrator. Daniels, a seasoned Standardbred aftercare professional, comes to the position with considerable experience operating a Standardbred transitional training program at her own Laurel Haven Farms, in Ohio. She previously worked in the regulatory department of the United States Trotting Association. A graduate of Ohio State University, Daniels holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture/Animal Science. "We are delighted to have the benefit of Jennifer's significant expertise in both transitioning our horses to new careers and as a professional within our industry. She will be working closely with our board in accrediting the first group of programs serving our horses, with our inaugural grants going out early in 2020," said STA President David Reid. Formed in the fall of 2018 and granted 501(c)(3) status in April 2019, the primary mission of the STA is to inspect, accredit and award grants to approved organizations that acquire, rehabilitate, train and rehome Standardbred horses, using industry-wide funding. As Administrator, Daniels will be responsible for representing the STA in a leadership role, focusing on facilitating the accreditation process, establishing industry partnerships, project planning and exploring further program developments to enhance greater breed marketability and increased visibility. "I am excited to join the STA and help carry out its important mission," said Daniels. "I look forward to working with the Board of Directors and the various stakeholders in Standardbred racing to showcase the transitioning of horses we care so deeply about." Daniels will be attending the upcoming Harrisburg Yearling and Mixed Sale. To learn more about the STA mission, visit From The Board of the Standardbred Transition Alliance

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The New York Sire Stakes and USTA District 8 will host their Annual Awards Banquet on Sunday, Nov. 10 at Saratoga Casino Hotel, honoring the top horses, trainers, drivers, owners and breeders of the 2019 harness racing season. Awards will be presented to the 2 and 3-year old champions of the NYSS, the Excelsior Series and the New York County Fair Series. USTA District 8 will also present divisional awards, along with Horse of the year and honors for leading breeders, trainers and drivers. Racing Under Saddle-NY will also present year-end awards. The banquet will begin with a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m., hosted by USTA District 8 racetracks. The banquet will follow immediately at 7:30 p.m. A USTA District 8 meeting will precede the banquet and is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the hotel. Tickets are $35.00 and include reception and dinner. Special room rates are available in which banquet guests can receive 15% off a reservation at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Click here for booking information. Guests are asked to please RSVP no later than Monday, Nov. 4. RSVPs can be given to Sarah Quinn at or 518-694-5002. Payment should be made out and sent to: Agriculture & NYS Horse Breeding Fund c/o CHMS 230 Washington Avenue Extension, Suite 101 Albany, NY 12203 From the New York Sire Stakes

THE PAULICK REPORT today by Joe Nevills reports that Horse racing is an industry built on using past performance to predict future outcomes, and if The Jockey Club goes through with its proposal to limit stud books to 140 mares bred per season, the Thoroughbred business has a decade of experience from the Standardbred side of the aisle to map out the road ahead. The United States Trotting Association, the regulatory body for Standardbred racing and breeding in the U.S., has imposed a 140-head limit on mares bred by stallions who debuted in 2009 or later, and after early periods of potential legal battles and business adjustments, the cap is now considered business as usual. The U.S. Standardbred gene pool is far shallower than its Thoroughbred cousin, both in the number of foundation pedigrees and in its current population – roughly a third of the national Thoroughbred head count. By the mid-2000s, a small handful of sires had taken command of the marketplace, and a growing abundance of 2×3 crosses had some in the USTA concerned about the genetic diversity of the breed. Only a small handful of stallions exceeded what would become the 140-mare limit, but with artificial insemination expanding a stallion's availability beyond his immediate surroundings, the busiest ones could top out near 300 mares. Among the industry leaders seeking a change was Russell Williams, president and CEO of top breeding operation Hanover Shoe Farms in Pennsylvania and president of the USTA. At the time the cap was first being discussed, Williams was a board member with the breed organization. To read the rest of the story, click here. 

Columbus, OH -- Richard "Dick" Brandt Jr. notified the U.S. Trotting Association in writing at the end of last week that he was resigning his seat on the Board of Directors as well as his position as Treasurer of the Association. Elected to the USTA Board in 1986 and Treasurer in 2010, he served as a representative of District 1. "With the state of racing in Ohio on solid footing, now seems to be a perfect and comfortable time for me to step aside and grant an opportunity for someone else to help oversee our great sport," said Brandt in tendering his resignation. In addition to his role as treasurer, Brandt was also the chairman of the Rules Committee and an active member of the Universal Rules Committee chaired by John Campbell. Among his many contributions to harness racing over several decades, Brandt was a past president and director of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association; past chairman of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Health and Retirement Fund; treasurer of PACER (Political Action Committee for Equine Racing); past president of the River Valley Colt Circuit and former trustee of the Ohio Standardbred Breeders Association. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in industrial production and is currently chairman and director of the Logan Clay Products Company. He is also chairman of the National Clay Pipe Institute and past chairman of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Brandt and his wife, Connie, reside in Logan, Ohio. "Selfless and principled -- those are the best words that I can think of to describe Dick and his contributions to harness racing and the USTA," said USTA Executive Vice President Mike Tanner. "He's an unsung hero of the sport, a man who has made a difference, and the Association is grateful for his many years of counsel and service." Kevin Greenfield was selected to fill the remainder of Brandt's term that expires in 2020. As prescribed in USTA Bylaw § 5.04 Vacancies Membership Elected Directors. Any vacancy on the district board of a membership director through death, written resignation filed with the United States Trotting Association office in Columbus, Ohio, removal, or other cause, may be filled from the membership of such district by the remaining membership directors for such district, with the individual so elected to serve until the next scheduled district meeting, at which time an election shall be held for the purpose of electing a membership director for the balance of the term or a new term if the existing term has expired, as provided in article 4.02 herein. The remaining membership directors of District 1 chose to replace Brandt with Greenfield, a respected Ohio breeder who is the president and treasurer of Hickory Lane Horse Farm in Findlay, Ohio, where he oversees the overall operations of the farm and is actively involved in the purchases of the farm's broodmares and stallions. Greenfield is a past president of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association in addition to being a shareholder in and past treasurer of the Ohio Harness Horse Breeders Association. Following is the procedure for election of a new membership director for District 1 in 2020. (4.02 Election of Membership Directors. Membership directors shall be elected as follows: (a) Nomination Petition Requirements. Candidates for membership director other than incumbent membership director shall be made by filing a written petition signed by at least twenty-five (25) voting members from the district for which the person seeks to become a candidate to be filed at the main office of the association in Columbus, Ohio at least fifty (50) days before the election. In computing the fifty (50) day period, the day of filing shall be counted and the day of the district meeting excluded. Nominating petitions forwarded by mail shall be by registered mail return receipt requested and shall be considered filed as of the postmark date. All others shall be considered filed at the time they are actually received at the main office of the association.) From the USTA Communications Department

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

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