Harness racing is a worldwide industry which is getting more and more international as time goes on. Stallions move between hemispheres and bloodlines are getting to look the same no matter where in the world you are. The World Trotting Conference brings together all the administrators from around the world to try to smooth some of problems with horses moving between countries and different systems. One issue which they seem to ignore repeatedly is the one with regards to money won in different countries and how it is counted in the overall scheme of things. In Canada and Australia, a dollar won anywhere in the world is counted as a dollar won when assessing a horse's lifetime earnings. In America and New Zealand, every dollar earned outside of the country is converted back to the local currency equivalent in dollar terms. With so many horses moving back and forth between Canada and America and also between Australia and New Zealand it can either inflate or deflate a horses earnings which to us here at Harnesslink is just absolutely ridiculous. It can also alter siring charts as we saw last year in the two year old ranks in North America. In Canada where they count every dollar won as one dollar, Sportswriter topped the charts for two year olds with a lead of $125,000 over his nearest rival Art Major. In America where they convert money won outside America to American dollars at the exchange rate on the day the money is won, Art Major finished $26,000 dollars in front of Sportswriter. We are of no doubt that Sportswriter was the leading money earning two year sire in North America in 2014 and we recognize him as such in all our articles. When we quote any money won either by a sire or individual in a story, the figures we use are always sourced via Trackit from the Canadian Harness Racing Site as Trackit is the only database with a true money won system in our opinion In our view the American system is an absolute joke and is done primarily to protect the stallion owners based in America from those upstarts across the border whose stallions just happen to earn more money in a season. The same anomaly occurs between Australia and New Zealand. Harness Racing Australia to its credit counts every dollar won anywhere in the world as one dollar earned for all its lifetime records for horses. New Zealand on the other hand converts all money won overseas back to New Zealand dollars on the day the money is won overseas. That results in inflated lifetime earnings for a lot of New Zealand horses who spend big parts of their racing careers in Australia. In some cases it has turned horses into millionaires when in reality they are still a fair way off the magical seven figure mark in actual earnings. We will highlight a couple here just to show the difference it can make. Take our latest millionaire in Stent who according to Harness Racing New Zealand has earned $1,010,053 to date where in actual dollars earned the figure is $984,460. Another horse to have his earnings inflated was Vulcan who was lucky in that when he raced in Australia the New Zealand dollars was worth in the high seventy cents range in relation to the Australian dollar. So why Harness Racing New Zealand records Vulcan as having earned $1,006,002, in actual dollars won, his earnings stand at $898,855. Now these are two absolute champions and should be respected as such but the system has let them down badly in our view. Let us have a look at a horse that raced extensively in both hemispheres in Tupelo Rose. Tupelo Rose's earnings as recorded on the four countries data bases we have mentioned in this article. * Harness Racing New Zealand - $1,146,603 * Harness Racing Australia - $879,867 * Standardbred Canada - $586,785 * United States Trotting Association - $578,671 As you can see the current system has left us with four different figures. Which one is the correct one is a hard question to answer but we would lean towards the Australian as probably being closest to the truth in this instance. As the above example shows the current system between these four countries is open to ridicule and rightly so in our opinion. We need some commonality on these important statistics and all four countries on the same page. A dollar earned anywhere in these four countries should be treated as a dollar earned by the governing bodies by each of the four countries. Until that happens you should treat all claims with regards to money won and sires stakes earnings coming out of America and New Zealand with a high degree of skepticism. JC
Columbus, OH --- The Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association informed the U.S. Trotting Association Friday that the organization will contribute $25,000 to the harness racing industry's social media initiatives being conducted by the USTA in partnership with the award-winning social media agency Converseon from New York. The PHHA becomes the first industry organization to add to the USTA's annual budget of $250,000 and provide additional funding to support the ongoing social media effort. "We're committed to promoting the sport of harness racing," said Sam Beegle, PHHA president, "and for the industry to grow, we need to reach a new demographic. I watch my grandchildren and no matter where they go or what they do, they're on their phones, connecting with friends via Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. The benefits of social media are just so obvious and we're proud to support what the USTA is doing." "We are excited that Sam Beegle and the PHHA are the first ones to step up and assist us with our social media program and are hoping that we can get other racetracks, horsemen's associations and industry organizations interested in contributing, too," said USTA President Phil Langley. "Maybe this will open the dam a little bit and we can make this grow even more." In the first year, the focus of the social media initiative was to build the foundation and develop the required assets to begin a transformation. During this initial phase, the USTA/Converseon program created the Harness Racing FanZone website with a Facebook following of 30,000 and a Social Ambassador program with 1,800 members. There was training for and collaboration with racetracks, horsemen's associations and other industry organizations. Different concepts were tested, analyzed and assessed. Vital content was created and the beginning of sponsorship support was formed. "From our initial conversations with Converseon CEO Rob Key a year-and-a-half ago to as recently as his presentation at the USTA Board of Directors meeting two weeks ago, we have talked about the need for industry collaboration and commitment as well as a mechanism for funding our long-term efforts," said USTA Executive Vice President Mike Tanner. "As Rob (Key) keeps telling us, 'this is a journey.'" At the recent Board meeting in describing the next steps, Key talked about the need to "Go Over the Top" to become the media, own our assets and distribute through direct channels in 2015. He explained that in the digital world, "the experience of the product is the product," and emphasized the need to enhance that product to provide the highest quality for the digital customer because online is how the consumer will experience harness racing. Further down the road, the goals will be to scale and monetize the social media effort and expand it globally. USTA Communications Department
COLUMBUS, Ohio - In remarks made before the Board of Directors of the United States Trotting Association this past weekend, Association of Racing Commissioners International (RCI) President Ed Martin indicated that he expected regulators would set a uniform approach on cobalt when they meet in Tampa, Florida, at meetings held April 21-23, 2015. Martin predicted that the regulators would act to set in motion a ban on intentional cobalt administrations out of equine welfare concerns and the possibility of performance enhancement. Horses found with elevated cobalt levels would be excluded from competition until such levels subsided. Trainers of horses with cobalt levels indicative of an intentional administration would face sanctions and suspension. "Regulatory veterinary staff in several jurisdictions have received complaints and/or observed instances where a cobalt administration has caused distress and colic in horses, causing cramps and muscle twitching, sweating, and pain," said Martin. "We are obviously concerned about the use of cobalt with the belief that it will enhance performance. But while the published science is not fully settled at what point that actually happens, we believe it is wrong to deliberately put a horse in discomfort absent a compelling medical reason to treat a serious ailment or injury. This issue is about the horse and not just about doping," he said. The RCI Executive Committee met last week and was unanimous in its desire that a uniform approach be adopted to prohibit cobalt administration in a way that does not impact those who have not deliberately administered it. RCI's Drug Testing Standards and Practices Committee will meet on Thursday morning, April 23, 2015 to consider options on cobalt regulatory thresholds. Recommendations from RCI science advisors as well as other organizations such as the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC) will be considered. In addition, Dr. Terrance S.M. Wan, the head of the Racing Laboratory and Chief Racing Chemist for the Hong Kong Jockey Cub, will be participating in the RCI meetings. Dr. Wan is the author, along with others, of a 2014 study entitled "Controlling the Misuse of Cobalt in Horses". The Association of Racing Commissioners International is the only umbrella organization of official rule making entities dealing with the totality of all professional horse racing. The ARCI sets standards for racing regulation, medication policy, drug testing labs, tote systems, racetrack operation and security, and off-track wagering entities. Its members are the only independent entities recognized to license, enforce, and adjudicate matters pertaining to racing. Steve May
Columbus, OH --- Phil Langley was re-elected as president of the U.S. Trotting Association by a 38-13 tally over challenger Jason Settlemoir during the general session of the USTA Board of Directors meeting on Sunday (March 16), held at the Hilton-Easton. Langley was re-elected to a fourth consecutive term -- his first in which there was an election -- and vowed to continue his current platform of leading medication research and social media marketing. In the other officer elections, Ivan Axelrod (chairman of the board), Barbara Brooks (secretary) and Richard Brandt (treasurer) were all unopposed and retain their respective seats. Ohio State Rep. Jim Buchy, a former horse owner and a longtime political friend of harness racing, gave the opening remarks. He stressed that those in the harness racing industry should never forget that the sport is built on the horse, and the horse is a vital part of the agriculture industry, both in Buchy's home state of Ohio and around the country. "We need to look at going back to our roots," said Buchy, who was first elected to the Ohio House in 1983. "Don't ever forget that we are in this room because farmers raced their horses against each other a couple hundred years ago. That led to the county fairs, and that is where we need to look to expand our fan base." Buchy suggested some areas of focus for harness racing leaders in order to continue to enjoy the level of economic prosperity that the Ohio harness racing industry has recently seen. "It's absolutely imperative that the integrity of the sport continues to be positive," he said. "The fans have to know that we have honest racing on the track and we're respectful to the animals." In his report to the board, Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner summarized the association's busy year, including the launch of Online Entry, the expansion of the social media initiative, and increased medication funding and research. One major undertaking was the sale of the Columbus office and the subsequent move to the northeast suburbs of Columbus, a four-month undertaking that did not result in interruption of service to members. "Out of everything that has happened this year, how our staff reacted to the move, and never took their eyes off the ball, that might have been our biggest accomplishment," he said. "We continued to deliver near-flawless service to members." Five new directors were introduced to the board: In District 2, Scott Peine, director of racing at Hoosier Park, was introduced by District Chairman Ken Marshall. In District 6, Joe Pennacchio, president of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association, and Brett Revington, director of racing operations at Pompano Park, were introduced by District Chairman Alan Leavitt. In District 9, Steve O'Toole, general manager of racing at Plainridge Park Casino, was introduced by District Chairman Don Marean. In District 12, Nick Salvi, stakes coordinator for Gural Racing, was introduced by District Chairman John Brennan. Former District 9 Director Paul Fontaine and former District 6 Director Jay Sears were named Directors Emeritus in a proclamation by USTA Chairman Ivan Axelrod. Presentations by Rob Key, Founder of the social media marketing firm Converseon; Ed Martin, president of Racing Commissioners International; and Jay Hickey, president of the American Horse Council, were also on the morning agenda. Meetings will continue throughout the afternoon, including the Registration and Owner/Breeder Committee, the Driver/Trainer Committee, the Regulatory Committee and the Pari-Mutuel Committee. From the USTA Media Department
The United States Trotting Association's Save Our Standardbreds (SOS) program assisted the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) recently in the expense of the seizure of two adopted horses. The first seizure was for Kokorama. The SPCA of Delaware helped SRF when the adopter stopped complying with his agreement to produce a semi-annual veterinary follow-up form. "This was Kokorama's third home since he came into our program in 2009. Much time and money goes into protecting these horses," notes Paula Campbell, SRF's President. "Leaving a horse out there puts not only the horse at risk but defeats the purpose, it reflects poorly on racing, and doesn't serve what our supporters intentions are." SRF knows that without an implemented follow-up system for life, the risk of a horse to neglect, abuse, and being sold to slaughter is great. The second horse seized was with the assistance of the SPCA of New Jersey and the case is still under investigation. The follow-up form from the veterinarian of the adopter of Here Taz, a 13 year old gelding indicated non-compliance. SRF's staff did a home visit with a trailer and found deplorable conditions and many emaciated animals. Here Taz stood struggling to get a chance at a bite of hay from the round bale that was surrounded by more than fifteen animals including pigs, goats, miniature horses, lactating mares and their foals, and a bull. Taz was walked through three fields of knee-deep manure and urine to the trailer. "Even with a very time intense screening system, this happens," says Judy Bokman, SRF's Executive Director. "Saving these two horses is a result of SRF's mandatory follow-up program which clearly indicates the need for it." Statistics show that adopted horses go through four homes in their lifetime due to circumstances such as financial hardship, divorce, loss of interest and many other reasons. No one knows what happened in these two homes to cause this neglect, but the help of the USTA's SOS program to provide financial assistance to horses whose care has fallen to a criminal level and who are subject to legal intervention because of that was very helpful. The remaining expenses for the rescue and rehabilitation for these 2 horses comes from the support of SRF's donors. SRF is the only Standardbred program that implements follow-up for life and fully supports 130 retirees no longer attractive to adopters due to age or injury. Where would a horse like Rubbernecker be, a 30-year-old Standardbred, if SRF was not there? He lost his adopted home of 12 years just after his 29th birthday. Standardbred Retirement Foundation | 353 Sweetmans Lane, Suite 101 | Millstone Twp. | NJ | 08535
Lloyd Arnold and Stan Bergstein, two legendary figures in harness racing, have races named in their honor this weekend at Cal Expo. The Lloyd Arnold Pace is set for Saturday night and the Stan Bergstein Trot is the feature on Sunday. Lloyd Arnold was an owner and track operator of the highest caliber. He passed away in 2012 at the age of 83. Originally the owner of Arnold Cattle Co. in Iowa, Mr. Arnold raced hundreds of horses in Illinois and across the Midwest throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. During that era, Mr. Arnold raced horses like Warm Breeze, who earned more than $250,000 in two seasons of racing in the mid-1970s, and Dancing David, who earned more than $200,000 in the 1960s. Warm Breeze took Mr. Arnold to racings pinnacle for the first time when he set the all-age world record at over this track, then known as Golden Bear Raceway. His top horses in later years included the pacing mare Sanabelle Island, who earned $1.6 million lifetime and won 57 of 110 starts. Also of note was Bagel Beach Boy, who won the 2001 Messenger and Matron stakes. In August 2003, Mr. Arnold bought Chevie Duramax, who then went on to set world records for 2-year-old pacing geldings on both mile and half-mile tracks. The fastest 3-year-old pacer in North America in 2004 belonged to Mr. Arnold as Quik Pulse Mindale won in 1:48 at Balmoral. In addition to being a prominent standardbred owner, Mr. Arnold operated this track during those Golden Bear Raceway years and also bought Los Alamitos in the late 1980s, eventually selling the track to his partner, Ed Allred. Mr. Arnold was inducted into the California Harness Hall of Fame in April of 2008. He also enjoyed personal honors in 2001 when he was feted by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters at their annual awards dinner and received the Owner of the Year Award from the U.S. Harness Writers' Association. Chris Bardis said, Harness Racing was one of Lloyd's great passions. He accomplished so much for the sport not only in California, but nationwide. He was Mr. Harness Racing. He conducted race meetings at Cal Expo, Bay Meadows, Golden Gate Fields, Del Mar, Pomona, Hollywood Park and Los Alamitos. I know of no one else who has had a greater impact on the harness world. Sundays Stan Bergstein Trot is named for the legendary figure in harness racing who passed away in 2011 at the age of 87. Mr. Bergstein was a harness-racing titan who advocated for cooperation between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries to solve the sports' common problems. He stepped down in 2011 after 50 years as the executive vice president of Harness Tracks of America, the Standardbred industry's trade association. He was immediately appointed as the organization's first executive emeritus, and continued to advise the association and write guest columns for the Daily Racing Form until the weeks before his death. The only person to ever be inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and its Communicators Hall of Fame, Mr. Bergstein worked in a wide variety of roles at racetracks, auction houses, announcer's booths, and racing publications, and he maintained extensive collections of harness-racing books and artwork. He was widely respected not only in the harness industry, but also in the Thoroughbred industry, and he served as a mentor to generations of young racing professionals through a close association with the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, located in Tucson, for the past 40 years. Mr. Bergstein was a forceful proponent of forging closer ties between the Standardbred and Thoroughbred industries, most notably in tackling medication abuse and problems with drug-testing. In dozens of commentaries, Bergstein maintained that the Standardbred industry's problems were, or would be those of the Thoroughbred industry, and that neglect of a problem in one sport would damage the other. Bergstein borrowed from the Thoroughbred industry early in his career, incorporating claiming races as a racing secretary while working at the Chicago tracks in the 1950's. At the time, the harness racing industry did not run claiming races, and they are now as commonplace in Standardbred racing as they are in Thoroughbred racing Bergstein also spearheaded the creation of Standardbred Investigative Services, a security agency modeled on the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. A native of Illinois, Bergstein attended harness races as a young man and received a journalism degree from Northwestern University. He was the former executive editor of Hoof Beats magazine, and the former vice president of publicity and public relations for the United States Trotting Association. Cal Expo trackman/program director Marty Bridges credits Stan Bergstein with bringing him into harness racing as a profession. After college and two years in the Army, I was employed by the small business association. At night, after work, I was a regular patron at Sportsmans Park and Maywood in Chicago. My supervisor, a former sportswriter for the Chicago Daily News, knew of my interest and called Stan to set up a meeting. Surprisingly, I was to meet him at Du Quoin on Hambletonian Day. Watching Stan call the races from a slightly elevated booth on the infield adjacent to the finish line was thrilling and between races we talked about racing, horses, drivers and trainers. His knowledge of the sport was amazing and I had never met anyone like him, and still havent. He introduced me to John Tinsley, the program director for all the Chicago tracks and John hired me on the spot. Its been a great ride, doing something I love. Gene Vallandingham first met Stan Bergstein in 1959 when he was working for the legendary Joe OBrien. Stan came to Joes farm every spring for the annual Camptown racing weekend, when all of Shafter would be there for a day of racing. Stan was the true voice of harness racing, he was liked by all and I miss him. Chris Schick said, "Stan was foremost a kind and compassionate person. He was a true visionary in the harness racing industry. In 1979 well before simulcasting, he so rightly stated the future of the industry was in how well we brought the product to the public. He was also very vocal of the industry for being reluctant to embrace change. Our industry lost a giant when he passed. Arnold Pace, Sire Stakes, Jackpot 6 spotlighted The $10,000 Lloyd Arnold Free-for-all Pace, a pair of $10,000 California Sire Stakes and a $48,130 carryover in the Jackpot 6 are among the main attractions Saturday night at Cal Expo. A 14-race card is on tap under the Watch and Wager LLC banner with first post set for 6:10 p.m. The Jackpot 6 is one of four wagers on the program that feature a reduced 16% takeout rate. The others are the Hi-5, which like the Jackpot 6 is a 10-cent minimum bet; the 50-cent Pick 5; and the 20-cent Pick 4, which comes with a $25,000-guaranteed pool. Looking at the Arnold Pace, China King is fresh from a 22-1 upset in last weeks Open when he hung a narrow decision on heavily-favored Pancetta in a 1:52 1/5 mile He drew the outside post in the field of seven. A 7-year-old American Ideal gelding who carries the banner of Gary and Jen Sabot with Gene Vallandingham training and Steve Wiseman in the sulky, he went-to-coast to capture the January 17 Open at 19-1, then came back last time to score from a tracking position at another nice price. Taking him are Pointsman, who gives the Vallandingham barn two looks at the outcome; Rusty Skipp and J C Onthebeach for conditioner Ray Burt; Alligator Falls from the Sal Wenceslao shedrow; the Junior Wilkinson-trained A Real Miracle; and Love Live Laugh for trainer Denise Maier. Uringoodhands and Hi Hos Little Rev have dominated the sophomore pacing colts Sire Stakes to this point and get another chance to settle the score on Saturday, while Placer gets top billing in the stakes gathering for the 4-year-old trotters. By Mark Ratzky, publicity Cal Expo Harness
Columbus, OH --- U.S. Trotting Association President Phil Langley announced Friday that Ellen Taylor, Paul Fontaine, the Standardbred Owners Association of New York, represented by President Joe Faraldo and Executive Director Alex Dadoyan, and Yonkers Raceway, represented by Vice President and General Manager Robert Galterio, are the recipients of the annual USTA President's Awards. Langley will make the presentations at the USTA Board of Director's Recognition Luncheon at the Hilton Columbus at Easton (Ohio) on Sunday (March 15). Ellen Taylor is the executive director for the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to providing young people and their families educational opportunities with harness horses in order to foster the next generation of participants and fans. The Foundation has been making a difference in young people's lives since 1976, and its programs include interactive learning experiences with these versatile animals, scholarship programs, and creation and distribution of educational materials. "One thing we all agree on is the need to get young people involved in harness racing," said Langley in announcing the awards. "No one is more active in this pursuit than Ellen Taylor. Every summer she travels thousands of miles conducting youth camps and does more than anyone to get and keep youngsters attracted to our sport through the Harness Horse Youth Foundation." Paul Fontaine, a partner in the law firm, Fontaine & Croll, Ltd. who served as deputy majority leader during his decade (1966-76) of service in the Rhode Island State Senate, holds and held key executive positions in major organizations in the harness racing industry. He is the current president of Harness Tracks of America, was the former president of the Standardbred Owners Association of New England, and is a director and vice president of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. He was elected to the U.S. Harness Writers Association New England Hall of Fame in 1995 and served on the USTA board of directors for more than 30 years, where he was chairman for seven years. Fontaine has owned harness horses for more than 40 years, among them 2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life and No No Yankee, winner of the inaugural Woodrow Wilson in 1977. "Few have made a bigger imprint in so many areas of harness racing as Paul Fontaine has over several decades," said Langley. "In addition to his contributions as a leader at numerous industry organizations, he has championed many voluntary causes and has been a very successful horse owner." Both the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Yonkers Raceway are recipients of the President's Award for their successful partnership with LeTrot and French PMU to simulcast Yonkers' racing to France and other countries in Europe. In addition to France, the signal is also sent to Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Holland, Estonia, Malta and the Spanish Basque community. The European response has been strong with more than $300,000 in average wagering per race. "I know this was not something that happened overnight," said Langley. "For more than a year Tim Rooney, Alex Dadoyan, Bob Galterio and Joe Faraldo worked to put this together. The success has been far greater than expected. They are still improving the product and their efforts are expected to culminate with a renewal of the International Trot this fall." President Joe Faraldo and Executive Director Alex Dadoyan will accept the award on behalf of the Standardbred Owners Association of New York and Yonkers Raceway Vice President and General Manager Robert Galterio will represent that track. by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications
Communicators Hall of Famer and long time North American stakes coordinator for the USTA, Carol Cramer, captured these magnificant photos of a herd of Standardbred yearling fillies frolocking in a snow storm. Carol's house is located adjacent to MIdland Acres in Ohio. She braved the snow storm to go out and take the photos. As you can see, one of the fillies did not mind the weather at all as she ends up rolling in the snow.
Columbus, OH --- The United States Trotting Association has announced that the next meeting of its Television Committee will take place by conference call on Wednesday (Feb. 11). The committee was tasked last year with investigating the feasibility of a national broadcast campaign and delivering recommendations to the USTA Board of Directors upon completion. The harness racing group most recently met in late October. The committee is chaired by Dan Leary, the USTA's director of marketing and communications, and is composed of members Ivan Axelrod (USTA chairman of the board), Alex Dadoyan (Standardbred Owners Association of New York), Kevin Decker (The Meadows), Moira Fanning (Hambletonian Society), Sam McKee (Meadowlands), Chris Schick (Cal Expo), and Mike Tanner (USTA executive vice president). USTA President Phil Langley believes that the committee should and will be aggressive and open-minded in investigating various options that would increase harness racing's visibility. "Obviously, there are financial challenges that preclude the USTA from funding on its own a multi-race, national schedule of televised race broadcasts," said Langley. "The money just isn't there to do what The Jockey Club has sponsored for the past few years. "But all of the new research out there indicates that more people, especially the younger ones the sport would love to attract, are getting their news and entertainment via online platforms. I think that there's a real possibility there, from both a cost and exposure standpoint. It's like hockey. You don't go to where the puck was. You play where the puck is going." Nonetheless, Langley quickly points out that the USTA has funding available to assist those member racetracks that plan to televise their biggest, most prestigious races. "We, along with several other industry groups and individuals, gave money to the Meadowlands for the past several years to get the Hambletonian on television and plan to do the same in 2015. We also sent $25,000 to the Little Brown Jug last year that helped fund that race's live broadcast. But our executive committee also approved a budget line item that would have the USTA provide partial funding for other races, too. We would love to help racetracks help themselves in enabling top events like the International Trot, Meadowlands Pace, Dan Patch Invitational, or Kentucky Futurity, for example, to be broadcast." Langley asks that all such applications be received at the USTA offices by the end of February so that proper consideration of each request can be given in advance of discussion at the annual USTA Board of Directors meeting, which will take place this year from March 14-16 at the Hilton Columbus Easton hotel in Columbus, Ohio. All requests should contain details concerning the promotion of each respective broadcast, including any advertising, additional sponsors, and/or social media tie-ins. from the USTA Communications Department
Columbus, OH --- Among the more positive news for harness racing as it moves into 2015 are the year-end results of the cross-industry social media marketing initiative sponsored primarily by the U.S. Trotting Association in partnership with 13 tracks and other key partners, including the Hambletonian Society and the Harness Racing Hall of Fame and Museum, the Grand Circuit and social media consultancy, Converseon. The 2014 initiative was designed as a critical first step in what is hoped to be a multi-year effort to rebuild the brand of harness racing and introduce it to new fans, owners and sponsors. The goals in 2014 were to first establish a solid foundation and online social presence that can then be leveraged and scaled more broadly across tracks and regions over time. This required the development of key digital assets to positively position the sport among key audiences, the creation of new content "shareable" content assets, and the facilitation of increased partnerships among the sport's different constituencies. The results of the effort met or exceeded all goals and has now set the stage for more advanced strategies in 2015 that will build on the momentum and focus increasingly on improving the product experience through digital technologies, increasing product and content distribution, acquiring new owners and continuing to build interest among current and new fans. Specific highlights include: The Harness Racing FanZone (http://harnessracingfanzone.com/), launched in March 2014, has become the sport's primary fan-oriented venue with more than 25,000 new and current fans "liking" the site on Facebook and sharing with their combined network of approximately 3.7 million friends and followers. A new mobile-friendly version of the site was launched in December to better meet the needs of mobile users (which accounts for approximately 70 percent of visitors). The Harness Racing Ambassador Program (http://www.harnessracingambassadors.com/), which allows fans to gain access to special rewards in return for helping to spread the word about the sport, attracted more than 1,800 Ambassadors in its first year, triple the target goal. New social media video assets, such as "This is Harness Racing" (http://youtu.be/UbyiJm2kYOA) and "Because It's The Jug" reached more than 945,000 people. The new digital assets were successfully applied to sponsorship support for Fazoli's investment in The Little Brown Jug, which can be now used as a model for other sponsorship support. Thirteen different tracks participated in the initial effort, setting the stage for greater partnership in 201 In addition to Facebook, the effort has generated strong growth in other key social media platforms including Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Online social media conversation doubled overall from 2013 and key year end Overall, the efforts connected the sport to more than 16 million people, many of them new fans who otherwise would not have had key exposure to the sport. "By every measure, the Social Media Marketing Initiative met or exceeded all key goals in 2014 and laid a solid foundation for growth," said Mike Tanner, executive vice president and CEO of the USTA. "As other major sports have noted consistently, social media strategies are central to growth and connections, especially with a new generation of fans. My staff and I look forward to presenting a proposal at the USTA Board of Directors meeting in March that would see the continuation of the program." "Harness racing now has 'major league' digital assets in place and a strong social presence that can now be scaled and leveraged to new audiences," said Rob Key, CEO of Converseon. "But this is just the beginning. The next level of strategy provides us an opportunity to leverage these digital and social technologies to build on top of this foundation to drive even greater results in the coming year. But it's going to take even deeper industry collaboration and perseverance to make the long-term impact necessary. We thank our partners involved in this effort and look forward to even deeper integration as we move ahead." As other sports, like the National Hockey League, have noted, social media marketing has become the critical center of gravity for driving exposure, awareness and participation, and is increasingly becoming integrated across other marketing efforts such as television, radio and direct marketing activities. To help set the stage for 2015, the initiative concluded the year with a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive market research study conducted among current and potential fans to help form the next marketing strategies. The results of the study will be released at a later date. from the USTA Communications Department
BEDFORD PA - The United States Trotting Association's annual meeting for District 7, which covers Pennsylvania, was held here Saturday afternoon (January 17) at the Bedford Springs Omni Hotel Resort, in the hometown of District 7 Chairman Sam Beegle, followed as traditional by the Pennsylvania Fairs Awards Banquet. Beegle presided over the District meeting, which included presentations by USTA's executive VP Mike Tanner, reviewing 2014 activities and highlighting 2015's major projections for the organization, and Ron Battoni of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, who discussed several major economic factors that Pennsylvania racing would need to address in this year of a new state governor, Tom Wolf. The annual review of the proposed USTA bylaw changes was handled by USTA Director, lawyer, and Bergstein Proximity award winner Russell Williams. Among important decisions made by the membership for their Directors to take to the USTA annual meeting were rejection of a rule changing pylon size and placement, along with rejection of a change detailing a progressively-severe punishment schedule for drivers found guilty of kicking; among items accepted were the "uncoupled owner/driver" rule, amended to include only pari-mutuel races, and the end of forcing a horse to requalify with the removal or addition of hopples. Tabled were the proposals dealing with Racing Under Saddle (RUS) as pari-mutuel events, as Pennsylvania law does not allowing wagering on saddled harness racing contests. The annual Fair Banquet must rank among the "best values" in all of harness racing, as for the $35 price banquet attendees enjoy outstanding food as well as drawings for over $10,000 in harness equipment, generously donated, including a Spyder race bike. Equine fair prizes fall in two categories: a set for those who earn the most points during the regular fair season, and an award for the horses who capture their Fair Championship in the fall at The Meadows. Winners in the point category were: 2TC - Police Navidad; 2TF - Peoplesayimnogood; 2PC - Nippy (the season's leading pointwinner over all divisions); 2PF - Tropical Terror; 3TC - Fly Past Hanover; 3TF - Cantabs Lightning; 3PC - Mister Chaos; 3PF - La Fiesta. The championship winners were headed by 3TC Fly Past Hanover, who not only was the only horse to win both his points title and Championship, but who also was the only sophomore who repeated a freshman Championship victory. Others in this category were 2TC - Wimborne Hanover; 2TF -- Isabella Carina; 2PC - Marshmallow Fluff; 2PF - Keystone I Wish; 3TF - Sheema Star; 3PC - Wellsaidandone; and 3PF - Wiggle It Hanover. Singled out for special praise were trainer Bill Daugherty Jr., for his campaigning of both Fly Past Hanover and Wimborne Hanover - the fourth 2TC Champion for the Daugherty barn in the last six years; and Team Shaw - owner Mason (now all of three years old), trainer/father Jason, and driver/uncle Chris, primarily for their prowess with freshmen Tropical Terror, Marshmallow Pulse, and Nippy - who among them won 43 races in 56 starts, and amassed $136,325 in fair campaigning. And to round out the Pennsylvania Night of Youth, six-year-old Owen McMullen won the Spyder race bike. Local racing hopes these two, from royal racing pedigrees in PA, stay around the business for a long time to come. by Jerry Connors
Paul A. Fontaine, long time director of USTA has resigned and his successor as a race track director from District 9 will be elected at the annual District 9 meeting in Augusta, ME on Saturday (January 17). “I will certainly miss my colleagues and the many friends I’ve had over almost 40 years in the USTA arena. I am confident that my contributions to the board have added substance to USTA and I wish all my friends good fortune. May God bless." Fontaine, a practicing attorney since 1963 has been active for 45 years as an owner, breeder, yearling buyer and racetrack representative. His horses have raced from Maine to California and include No No Yankee, winner of the Inaugural Woodrow Wilson in 1977. He was co-founder of the former New England Sire stakes program, and as President of the Standardbred Owners Association of New England, representing horsemen at three major New England racetracks, was a prime mover and signatory to the first-ever contract entered into between tracks and horsemen sharing a retention on a 50/50 partnership basis, helping to usher in a new era of cooperation between tracks and horsemen. A long time advocate for honesty and integrity in harness racing, throughout his career he has spearheaded the creation and adoption of integrity policies that are still in effect today at the USTA, HTA, HHYF and the U.S. Harness Writers Association. Fontaine has served for the past 4 years as President of the Harness Tracks of America, where he has served as a director for many years. He has served on the Board of Directors of USTA for over 35 years and was presently its longest continuously serving member representing both horsemen and racetracks on the Board. He served 7 years as the Chairman of the Board. For the past 15 years, he has been a Trustee of the Harness Horse Youth Foundation, and was its Vice President for 12 years. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the American Horse Council for the past 10 years. Fontaine was elected to the New England Harness Writers Association Hall of Fame in 1998 and was the 2009 recipient of the Joseph A. Vaccaro memorial award for lifetime achievement in the sport of harness racing. Drawing on his political background, having served in the Rhode Island State Senate from 1966-1976 and as a deputy majority leader, he has been active as a liaison to foster better relationships and communication between the racing industry and state racing commissions. He has demonstrated a lifetime of commitment and service in every aspect of the industry and sport that he loves and has represented harness racing with dignity and purpose. He lives in North Smithfield, Rhode Island with his wife Joanne. Fontaine has 5 children and 12 grandchildren. From the Media Department at the USTA
Columbus, OH --- The total wagering on harness racing at U.S. tracks in 2014 was just shy of $1.5 billion, a 6.67% decrease from 2013. However, the average amount wagered per race came in at $39,306, a 2.18% increase from the previous year when the total was $38,469, it was reported by the United States Trotting Association today. Purses paid totaled $408,135,386, a 3.26% decrease over 2013, when that total was $421,890,322. Race days totaled 3,695, a 4.77% decrease, or 185 fewer days than the 3,880 days contested in 2013. Total handle on U.S. harness racing in 2014 was $1,497,004,583, a decrease of $107,835,413 (6.67 percent) from the $1,604,839,996 wagered in 2013. Following are the comparative economic indicators for U.S. harness racing from 2014 and 2013. ECONOMIC INDICATORS ON U.S. HARNESS RACES 2014 2013 % Change Total Wagered $1,497,004,583 $1,604,839,996 -6.67% Per Race avg. $39,306 $38,469 +2.18% Purses $408,135,386 $421,890,322 -3.26 % Race Days 3,695 3,880 -4.77% Please note: Includes U.S. and Canadian common and separate pool wagers on races contested in the U.S. Data source: United Tote. The United States Trotting Association, located in Columbus, Ohio, is a not-for-profit association of Standardbred owners, breeders, drivers, trainers, and officials, organized to provide administrative, rulemaking, licensing and breed registry services to its members. For more information on the USTA, please visit www.ustrotting.com. From the USTA Media Department
The 2014 Illinois champions will be announced at the USTA District 5 Awards Banquet in Springfield on Saturday, January 15 and since I’m also in the business of making predations I thought I‘d pass along who I think they will crown as the 2014.trotting division winners. I’ll post my picks for the ICF pacing divisions on Saturday along with my choice for 2014 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year. Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter Persuasive Look and Fox Valley Yoko Even though it’s unlikely the USTA District 5 members will have a dead-heat in their balloting for this division, both Persuasive Look and Fox Valley Yoko are very deserving and I simply couldn’t split them. Therefore, I have co-winners in this division. Persuasive Look posted a record of 4 wins, 4 seconds and 4 thirds in 13 starts, while taking the $40,500 Fox Valley Flan and the $57,200 American National, earning $96,186 for Illinois owners and breeders Homer Hochstetler of Crete and Robert Buddig of Hinsdale and trotting a first season mark of 1:58 flat at Balmoral. Casey Leonard drove the Powerful Emotion home bred youngster. Meanwhile, Fox Valley Yoko, a daughter of Pizzazzed out of the successful broodmare Yankee Victory OM, went 5-for-12 in her freshman campaign, captured both the Springfield and Du Quoin State Fair championships and Balmoral’s $40,050 Violet for trainer Curt Grummel and his owner Dr. Patrick Graham of Pittsfield, Illinois. “Yoko” only made $494 less than Persuasive Look and took a mark of 1:58.2 at Balmoral with regular driver John De Long. Two-Year-Old Colt Trotter Fox Valley Qatar While the freshman filly trotting division was too close to call, the colt category certainly wasn’t. Fox Valley Qatar was nearly perfect, This son of Pizzazzed, out of the dam Armbro Bahrian, was sensational for owner and trainer Herman Wheeler who turned the one-time $7,000 yearling purchase into an $84,215 money-maker and a multi-stakes champion. Fox Valley Qatar won his first eight career starts before a second place finish in the $97,000 Lincoln Land Final, his last race of 2014. Along the way he took the $48,000 Plesac Final, the $30,000 Springfield State Fair title and a $17,000 division of the Du Quoin’s Darn Safe. Todd Warren was at the lines of Fox Valley Qatar throughout his first season Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter Bailey’s Wish When the division’s major stakes came around you often found Bailey’s Wish in the winner’s circle along with her trainer Dirk Simpson and Illinois owners Jim Bafia (Minooka) and Gene White (Chicago). In her second season the 2013 Illinois Two-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year boasted first place finishes in the $47,000 Violet Final and Super Night’s $100,000 Lady Ann Reed Championship at Balmoral, along with Springfield’s $30,000 Final. The daughter of Southland Breezed also annexed such smaller ICF stakes as Balmoral’s Fox Valley Diva and a Betzotic and Maywood’s Speed N The Tunnel. Three-Year-Old Colt Trotter Fox Valley Veto Curt and Crag Grummel’s star trotter followed a freshman season with only 1 win with 9 triumphs with an outstanding second season that including triumphs in 4 major ICF championships and 3 others against the top open company trotters at Balmoral. The full brother to Fox Valley Yoko started out 2014 second best behind Tour Hall in the Cardinal, a Hanover and a Betzotic before he turned on the jets and powered his way through many of the division major stakes.. Fox Valley Veto won the $41,000 Kadabra, the $25,000 Mike’s A Mystery against older ICF trotters, and the $52,000 Springfield State Fair title in consecutive mid-summer starts. Later in the year he also posted back-to-back-to back victories in “Winner’s Over,” open events, all with driver John De Long. “Veto” finished 2014 with purse earnings of $148,093. Aged Trotters Trot Fudge Sundae and Mack’s Gold Band It was a “down” year for older ICF trotters with few opportunities here in Illinois. The Dirk Simpson Stable’s Trot Fudge Sundae, owned by Simpson, Bafia and White topped the aged mare division with 6 wins and 6 seconds as a 4-year-old. The American Native mare won a pair of Opens at Running Acres in Minnesota, took a new lifetime mark of 1:54 flat the The Red Mile in Lexington and finished her season with a trio of winner circle stops in Open Handicaps at Pompano Park. Mack’s Gold Band, also trained by Simpson, topped the ICF colt and gelding division for older trotters, taking both of the State Fair Aged Trotting stakes for Flacco Family Farms before the trotter was sold to east coast connections. The 4-year-old son of Bands Gold Chip ended last season with 7 wins in 19 starts, a mark of 1:53.3 at Springfield and a $32,528 season bankroll. by Mike Paradise, for IHHA
Thomas John "Chad" Chadwick, 76, of North Huntingdon, PA, died Monday, Nov. 17, 2014. He was born Nov. 5, 1938, in McKeesport, the son of the late Chester and Mary Lakatosh Chadwick. Tom was a longtime owner of Standardbreds and a member of the US Trotting Association and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. His main trainer for several decades was Dane Snyder, with horses based at The Meadows. He also raced in Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey and Virginia. His top horse was Blueridge Abigail, a dual-state champion. After winning Virginia stake championships at 2 and 3 at Colonial Downs, she went on to win the Indiana Sire Stake aged trotting mare title in 2013. According to Tom King, Chadwick's longtime partner on many of his horses, "He would spend countless hours studying the sales books. He knew families, and knew everything about it. He was famous for how he marked his book, and people would always want to borrow his book to see what he liked. He was a real student of the business. I never saw anybody more liked by more people. He was genuinely a nice guy." Chadwick was a member of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, and the Glassport Polish Club. He also owned horses and enjoyed harness racing at the Meadows. Chad was a pharmacist at UPMC McKeesport and retired after 39 years of service. He was an Army veteran. He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Marie Catherine Stashko; stepson, Gene (Kristi) McCahill, of Delmar, Md.; stepdaughter, Lee (Thomas) Brown, of Boston; grandchildren, Alexandria, Mary Lee and Jacob Brown; and many cousins. Friends are welcome from 2 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, at the Gilbert Funeral Home, 6028 Smithfield St., Boston, (Elizabeth Township), PA. Private funeral service will be held in the funeral home chapel. Private interment will be in the St. John the Baptist Cemetery, North Versailles. Condolences may be made at gilbertfuneralhomeandcrematory.com. by Jeff Zidek, for the MSOA
USTA Directors from District 8 will be conducting their annual meeting and Awards Dinner Sunday, October 26th at Vernon Downs. The event is hosted by Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund and the United States Trotting Association. USTA directors who will be on hand are District 8 Chairman Shawn Wiles, Jason Settlemoir, Mike Kane, Kim Crawford, Ray Schnittker Mark Ford and Bruce Tubin. At the meeting the attending members will review this years Proposed Rule and Bylaw changes. On the slate are nine proposed changes, three of which pertain to the Racing Under Saddle (RUS). No Director elections are due this year. The dinner will honor District 8 horses and the district's Horse of the Year will be named that evening. Also being recognized is John Manzi, who is honored by being named this year's recipient of the prestigious Bruce Hamilton Memorial Award. The meetings will get underway at 5pm followed by a Cocktail Party at 6:30pm. The Banquet and Awards Dinner program will begin at 7:30pm. Tickets for the Dinner are $30 and anyone interested in attending should call Betty Holt at the Harness Horse Breeders at 518-785-5858.