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Columbus, OH - Harness racing's Kathy Parker, the longtime editor of The Horseman And Fair World, was named as the new editor of Hoof Beats magazine by the U.S. Trotting Association on Friday (March 12) succeeding Kim French who has accepted another position in the horse racing industry. "It was a loss for the harness racing industry when The Horseman And Fair World announced they were ceasing publication in January," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. "But when Kim told us about her new job, Kathy was the first person we thought of. She brings to Hoof Beats a unique combination of editor skills, industry knowledge and personal relationships that can make the magazine even better." Parker also noted the fortunate timing of events. "The timing of this is incredible, like I got a perfect trip to win a big race," said Parker about joining Hoof Beats. "When The Horseman announced it was wrapping up its business, I had hoped to be able to freelance some stories for Hoof Beats. Kim's opportunity became an opportunity for me. "I'm excited to continue my career working as a harness racing journalist," added Parker. "I know that the digital world has become dominant in media, but I believe there are stories and information that are best presented in a printed format. Together with the Hoof Beats staff, I know we will carry on its strong tradition of excellence." French, who had been editor since May 2018, will remain working on the magazine and assist with Parker's transition through the end of April when she departs for her new position. In addition, she will continue to write stories for the magazine. "We want to thank Kim for all of the improvements that she made to Hoof Beats during the past three years with all of the new writers she brought on board and the excellent stories that she was able to bring to the magazine," said Dan Leary, the USTA's director of marketing and communications. "Kim and I worked together for years prior to our collaboration with Hoof Beats and the USTA, so I know that she is moving on to a great career opportunity and we wish her the best with it." Parker, who was inducted into the Communicators Hall of Fame in 2015, began working for The Horseman And Fair World in 1980 and became editor in October 1995. In 1998, she introduced the website and added the Harness Racing Weekend Preview in 2009. She is also a trustee and secretary of the Harness Racing Museum. A current member of the U.S. Harness Writers Association, she won a John Hervey Award for excellence in harness racing journalism in 1992. Parker graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in journalism. From the USTA

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

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

Columbus, OH - For the first time ever, the U.S. Trotting Association District Meetings will be held virtually, online rather than in person on site. As usual, all district members are welcome to attend. For members to participate, the free Zoom app will need to be downloaded to their computer or device in advance of the meeting. The meetings will be conducted on the Zoom Webinar platform. In addition, the USTA must have the current email associated with the member's account so that we can communicate specific instructions on how to participate. Members will receive those directions via email from the USTA 30 days before their meeting, then again as a reminder a week in advance. To see the complete schedule of District Meetings, click here. The agenda for each meeting will include messages from both USTA President Russell Williams and Executive Vice President Mike Tanner as well as voting on rule change proposals and discussions of other district business. To see the complete list of rule change proposals, click here. All meetings will be recorded, archived and posted on the USTA website. From the USTA

Columbus, OH – Phil Langley loved obituaries.  No one alerted us to more deaths than he did, a practice that didn’t abate even after he stepped down as the USTA harness racing president at the end of 2016.  And it wasn’t just that he would let us know that someone had passed away.  Almost always, the notification came attached to a personal quote, anecdote, or story from Phil, along with a brief message asking that his words be included as part of the tribute to the recently departed. It struck me as odd, at least at first.  Over time, though, I grew to understand that harness racing, and especially its people, were fundamentally central to the core of who Phil was, and, beyond that, part of the sport’s shared, collective past.  History must be preserved.  Attention must be paid. The irony is that Phil, the longtime USTA president and Hall of Famer who passed away on Saturday (April 11) at the age of 83, would never have expected anyone to insert themselves into his obituary.  He would have told me not to do it.  That he’s not here to issue that directive is profoundly sad. Here’s what you should know about Phil.  He was smart, a Dartmouth graduate who never played up his Ivy League pedigree.  He saw things largely in black in white, but had great appreciation and patience for viewpoints that weren’t his own.  I can’t remember winning many arguments with him, but that’s because he usually was right, and he never failed to hear me, or anyone else, out.  He was seen as an old school guy, but under his leadership, the USTA embraced and launched an extensive social media initiative and beat every other breed registry to the punch in pioneering online entry.  He was gentle and he was kind.  He loved his wife and kids, of whom he was incredibly proud, and doted on his grandchildren.  He loved being the USTA president, and was proud of the organization and the staff.  He looked out for people.  He had a brilliantly dry sense of humor, loved to laugh, and was a skilled storyteller.  He was stoic about problems and challenges, and I never heard him make an excuse or utter a word in self-pity.   He loved horses and the men and women who cared for them.  He was honest and direct.  If he told you that he would do something, you knew that he would.  He was my friend. Phil had a habit of not saying goodbye at the end of phone calls, which would often conclude abruptly and without warning.  I never quite understood it, and until you got used to it, those endings could be rather jarring.  But when I would think back on the conversation that we had just had, there was nothing left unsaid, nothing that required further clarification.  As he did in every other facet of his life, Phil had covered all the bases. The United States Trotting Association extends its sympathy and condolences to the family of F. Phillip Langley, our leader and our friend.  Thank you for sharing him with us. by Mike Tanner, USTA Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer

This articlecolumn was written by John Pricci for  Once again, the Thoroughbred racing industry is at loggerheads, only this time appearing before a Congressional Subcommittee hearing which has held these types of inquiries before but perhaps none as meaningful. Never has the industry faced an existential crisis of major proportions. “Too big to fail” is no longer a justifiable defense for a sport whose end-product is more about the sales ring than what happens between the fences. Everyone knows why this is happening, even though some version of the Horseracing Integrity Act has been kicking around since 2015 which, by Capitol Hill standards, is the blink of an eye. On one side people are fighting hard for the lives of horses and the men and women who ride them. On the other are champions of the upperdog who invoke the health of the bottom line in order to maintain the status quo. The solutions proposed by the latter never go quite far enough. What replaces doing the right thing is to question process, making a call for compromise knowing all too well that patchwork unity has never worked. This ersatz search for middle ground is the same kind of hypocrisy practiced by those in Washington who would save the country’s top executive at the cost of a democratic republic. But I digress. As was widely reported in racing publications, Bloodhorse and the Thoroughbred Daily News, to name just two, speaking for the health of the living and breathing was a Hall of Fame jockey who won over 7,000 races. Another advocating for the Horseracing Integrity Act was the former CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club who is now an advisor to the Humane Society of America. In favor of those who hesitate to turn a page and would keep the present frozen in time is a person whose organization would become anachronistic if legislation is enacted, and another who represents a group that would take an economic hit if raceday medication were eliminated. The bipartisan bill – which in this climate should put the legislation over the top without further discussion – would have the United States Anti-Doping Agency form an authority including major industry players to regulate medication rules, policies, testing and sanctions. Indeed, the elephant in the room that H.R. 1754 would attempt to carry across the finish line is the elimination of raceday medication, legal and otherwise, a policy that would end the use of Lasix in competition. “Instead of giving the animal the rest it needs, a trainer can rely on his/her veterinarian to administer a medication to mask pain by reducing inflammation caused by an injury,” said Chris McCarron. “This bill directly addresses one of the leading causes of breakdowns.” “The bar for effectively detecting and punishing cheaters is so low that it is difficult to fail,” reasoned Joe DeFrancis. “Each trainer knows what they’re being tested for and when they are being tested. There is little if any out-of-competition testing, the kind of testing that has proven so effective in catching athletes who dope in Olympic sports,” DeFrancis concluded. In favor of maintaining the 38-state patchwork with enhancements and modifications, effectively protecting the franchise, was Ed Martin, President of the Association of Racing Commissioners International. “I don’t think this bill as presently written is going to improve the integrity of the sport,” said Martin. “But I think it would improve the integrity of the sport if it were to take [a non-governmental organization and turn it into a multi-jurisdictional investigative organization] to do out-of-competition testing as well as out-of-competition suitability exams that are red-flagged because of their vet records and procedures.” Promises of meaningful enhancements puts lipstick on the same-old pig even if the stricter protocols advanced by Santa Anita’s management group has enjoyed statistical success with improved protocols. And at least the company continues to walk its talk; as the Lasix-less Pegasus Cup proved. The Thoroughbred industry has had decades to police itself and clean up its act. But if it were not for the fact that 37 horses lost their lives last winter at Santa Anita, the raceday medication elephant would remain in a lockbox. After the hearing concluded, the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, comprised of a 14-member majority of leading Thoroughbred stakeholders and racetracks, issued a statement re continuing industry-led advanced safety measures with a promise to enact meaningful change. But the industry has had decades to accomplish these goals. The major group yet to endorse medication reform is the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, who use their veto power to stop simulcasting in its tracks. The final version of HIA must address this roadblock. Absent independent national uniformity, no effort to clean up the game will succeed in a meaningful way. If there’s a segment of horse racing that has reason to embrace the status quo on raceday medication it’s the harness racing industry, which did not get a seat at the table. Indeed, Mike Tanner, Executive Vice-President of the United States Trotting Association, was interviewed but not selected to appear. And the irony is that harness horse owners will pay more than Thoroughbred counterparts to fund the proposed commission established by the possible legislation. With an anticipated $43-45 per-start fee, and with the average Standardbred racing 18 times per year on average, compared to six for Thoroughbreds, it will cost harness owners more. There are other fundamentals to have different rules for different breeds considering the routine way each sport is conducted. Many harness juveniles, e.g., begin their careers without Lasix though they gravitate to it with age. The ARCI, which passed 12 harness specific model-rules amendments last August in Saratoga, acknowledges that separate standards may be appropriate. Statistics indicate that Standardbreds sustain three times the damage of Thoroughbreds in the course of a racing year and can race until age 14. Both breeds train and race with Lasix, but “training miles” are a routine part of maintaining condition in Standardbreds. As in Thoroughbred racing, most violations are a result of therapeutic medication overages. But unlike the crop flap at Santa Anita last season, sanctions for whipping violations and kicking that abuse the animal, as well as dangerous interference infractions have existed. Racetracks in various states for either breed fail to report catastrophic injuries. But the USTA has statistics for both breeds that, according to the California Horse Racing Board database, are eye-opening. A decade’s worth of statistics was compiled from 2009 through 2018. [Thoroughbred starters in 2009 were estimated at 45,000]. During this period all Standardbreds made 83,592 starts at Cal-Expo, compared to 381,531 Thoroughbred starters state-wide. There were 914 Thoroughbred fatalities during this time. While the numbers have improved markedly since, that translates to 2.40 deaths per 1000 starters. The Standardbred ledger shows seven fatalities. In five of the 10 years, there were no fatalities; the mortality rate was 0.08 per 1000 starters. Given that Standardbreds annually race three times more often, raceday medication in harness racing seems to be working as intended, therapeutically. Thoroughbred racing if a different game, of course. “Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good; we need to take action right away,” DeFrancis added. “Every day we delay we’re losing more and more public support, more and more fans, more and more customers. And it’s getting that much more difficult to get them back.” Said HIA co-sponsor Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY): “We’re all in theory talking about the same goals, and yet each of you [who testified against it] opposes the very piece of legislation that would make [uniformity] a reality instead of a tired talking point.”

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 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

Elkton, MD -- Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by the USTA/BetAmerica, is excited to announce the line-up for Thursday morning (Feb. 7) at 10:30 a.m. They will be joined by Mike Tanner, CEO of the USTA; Louis Philippe-Roy, regular driver of Jimmy Freight; regular contributor Garnet Barnsdale, and Scott Lecain, groom for Mark Steacy. Tanner, CEO of the USTA, will join to talk about a multitude of items, including the upcoming Board of Directors meeting in March. Tanner will also discuss some of the advocacy efforts going on in Washington, DC and will discuss the happenings of the Standardbred Transition Alliance. Roy, the regular driver of Jimmy Frieght, joins to discuss the champion three-year-olds most recent victory in the O'Brien Awards in Canada. Roy had a big season himself, the pair will also talk about his Super Bowl winning New England Patriots. Regular contributor Garnet Barnsdale will stop by to discuss his reaction from the 2019 O'Brien awards that were held this past weekend. Barnsdale covered many events for Mike & Mike and will highlight some of the night's most distinguished stars. Lecain, a groom for trainer Mark Steacy, discusses how he felt going into the burning First Line Training Center in Canada to help rescue horses that were trapped. Lecain was one of the first people in the barn following the start of the fire, in which 35 out of the 40 horses were rescued. Post Time with Mike and Mike presented by USTA/BetAmerica can be heard live every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. via their website or on the archive at by Michael Carter, for the Mike & Mike Show  

Columbus, OH --- The U.S. Trotting Association and Northfield Park are pleased to announce that they have reached a settlement of the dispute between the two parties that began in June 2017. "We've very pleased with the outcome and look forward to a renewed and improved relationship with Northfield Park," said USTA Executive Vice President and CEO Mike Tanner. Northfield Park's membership has been reinstated and the track's director restored to the USTA Board of Directors. In addition, the track is able to participate in the USTA Strategic Wagering Program, is eligible for co-advertising opportunities and has all Pathway account access returned. Additionally, the USTA already has begun to post on its website press releases from Northfield Park that serve to publicize the track and its racing. "We are excited along with our fans and horsemen to once again be working with the USTA and all the great initiatives that they provide," commented Northfield Park's Vice President and General Manager Brent Reitz. Northfield Park has also agreed to make a charitable donation before the end of the year to the newly formed Standardbred Transition Alliance, which is an industry-wide group created to accredit programs serving Standardbreds seeking placement outside traditional commercial uses and also serves as a conduit for partial funding to those groups. From the USTA Communications Department  

Columbus, OH --- A group of 13 people, representing a variety of sectors in the industry, has been assembled to lead the development of the Standardbred Transition Alliance (STA). The STA will accredit programs serving Standardbreds seeking placement outside traditional commercial uses and also serve as a conduit for partial funding to those groups. The group has filed articles of incorporation and is registered as a charity with the state of Ohio; documents have also been submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to file as a 501(c)(3)charitable entity. The STA will operate independently of the United States Trotting Association, though the USTA will provide operational support and will have an ex officio spot on the board. The USTA Board of Directors in March directed Chief Executive Officer Mike Tanner, with assistance from a steering committee comprised of Directors Don Marean, Jacqueline Ingrassia and Fred Nichols, to form the group. The STA will not directly care for horses, but will accredit and provide some funding for groups that meet accreditation standards. It will be modeled after the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, which provides financial assistance to about 60 groups annually. "It is past time that we have a pervasive and proportional system to provide some support to groups helping our horses when they are no longer viable on the racetrack or as bloodstock," said USTA President Russell Williams. "We have many horse owners that provide for their horses for all of their lives, but that is not an option for every person or every horse. We owe the horses that provide our living and enjoyment a coordinated effort to give them a secure future off the track. The STA will support that goal." The STA Board will convene for the first time in early November. The USTA Executive Committee is expected to consider and vote on actions to provide some funding for them at their November meeting. For questions and comments about the STA, email The members of the STA Board are: Bill Abdelnour, horse owner and president of the New England Amateur Drivers Association Elizabeth Caldwell, owner and manager of Cane Run Farm, Kentucky Michelle Crawford, breeder and owner of Crawford Farm, New York Moira Fanning, chief operating officer of the Hambletonian Society Dr. Donna Franchetti, horse owner and veterinarian Kevin Greenfield, breeder and president of the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association Dr. Patricia Hogan, horse owner, breeder and veterinarian Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, horse owner and veterinarian, manager of Hanover Shoe Farm Rick Moore, vice president and general manager of racing at Hoosier Park David Reid, owner of Preferred Equine Marketing Mitchel Skolnick, breeder and partner in Bluestone Farm Kelly Young, executive director of the New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund From the USTA Communications Department

USTA Executive Vice President Mike Tanner has been awarded the Dominic Frinzi Person of the Year award by Harness Horseman International. Tanner, 49, has been the helm of the USTA since late 2008, the youngest person at the time to fill that position.   The New Jersey native was first introduced to racing when visiting Liberty Bell Park in the mid-1970s, and spent time as a groom and hot walker at Philadelphia Park and Garden State Park. After graduating from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1988 and Bowling Green University in 1991, Tanner began his professional career as a Ladbroke's Detroit Race Course publicist in 1992.   Tanner has also served as director of marketing, media, and simulcasting, as assistant to the president, and as director of communications at Gulfstream Park from 1993-2005, and also worked for the Breeders' Cup, from 2001 through 2003.   In 2002, Tanner was a member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Technology Group's Communications Task Force and in 2005 was director of racing operations at Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack, in Chester, Pa. He and his wife Gail have two sons.   Ron Battoni, who recently retired as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Harness Horsemen's Association, is honored with the HHI Appreciation Award. Battoni managed the PHHA's day-to-day operations including contract negotiations, government relations, interfacing with the state commission and track officials and overseeing the PHHA staff. The former horseman has been active in racing for more than four decades, and will continue to assist the PHHA in a reduced capacity for three to five years. During his tenure as a driver-trainer, from 1977 to 1987, he scored 394 wins and $760,738 in purse monies. Battoni joined the PHHA in 1987 and helped lead it through a number of positive changes in including full-card simulcasting of out-of-state racetracks in the 1990s. .He also worked to implement the passage of the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act in 2004 which brought slot machines to Pennsylvania tracks and oversaw the development and opening of Harrah's Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack in 2007.   Writer Ken Weingartner is HHI's Clyde Hirt Media Award winner for this year. As the USTA's Media Relations Manager, Weingartner has already earned numerous journalistic accolades, including the Phil Pines Award recently bestowed upon him from the Monticello-Goshen chapter of the US Harness Writer's Association on Nov. 16, 2015. He also has awards from the New Jersey Press Association and the College Sports Information Directors of America.   Weingartner, who is in his 13th year with the USTA, is a central New Jersey native who got interested in harness racing via his father, who took him to Freehold Raceway as a child. After stints at the Williamsport Sun-Gazette and Allentown Messenger-Press, Weingartner joined the USTA in 2002. He won the Golden Pen Award from the Standardbred Marketing and Media Association in 2007.   All three gentlemen will be feted at the HHI Annual Awards Banquet at the Embassy Suites Resort, Deerfield Beach, Florida on Wednesday, March 9, 2016.   Harness Horsemen International 319 High St. Suite 2 Burlington, NJ 08016 (609) 747-1000    

Columbus, OH --- USTA President Phil Langley, accompanied by Executive Vice President Mike Tanner, presented the USTA’s position on a number of medication issues to the Ohio State Racing Commission at their monthly meeting on Monday afternoon (March 30) at the Riffe Center in Columbus, Ohio. At the previous commission meeting on Feb. 21, Chairman Robert K. Schmitz invited representatives of the U.S. Trotting Association, national and state branches of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, and the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association to address the commission. Langley focused on the need for uniform but separate medication rules for the different breeds, the use of therapeutic medications and USTA research on cobalt. He emphasized that in harness racing, the horses race much more often than Thoroughbreds and that harness racing doesn’t have the same problems with breakdowns. “The USTA strongly believes in uniform medication rules,” said Langley. “But we believe in uniform rules for harness racing and uniform rules for Thoroughbreds, but different rules. The way we race is not compatible with the way they race. We would like the rules to reflect the harness use, not the Thoroughbred use. “Recently, Ed Martin from RCI (Association of Racing Commissioners International) has indicated that they have no problem with separate rules.” Langley discussed a USTA-funded research study on cobalt conducted by Dr. George Maylin from the New York Drug Testing and Research Program at Morrisville State College with assistance from Director Dr. Karyn Malinowski and Associate Director Dr. Ken McKeever from the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University. He informed the commissioners that the USTA is planning a new study with that team of equine experts. “Now we going to commission a new study with Drs. Maylin, Malinowski and McKeever to see exactly what cobalt does to horses,” said Langley. “One of the challenges is that the scientists have to figure out how to test horses that are racing.” When asked by Chairman Schmitz for the reason that the USTA resigned from the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium in September 2013, Langley cited the USTA’s $100,000 annual contribution being made to an organization that refused to consider harness racing’s issues. “Our money could be used better for studies on harness racing than for funding the RMTC who were not considering harness racing,” explained Langley. The Ohio State Racing Commission is collecting information prior to consideration of model medication rules proposed by the Association of Racing Commissioners International. The commissioners heard presentations by RCI President Edward J. Martin and Dr. Dionne Benson, executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, at their February meeting. According to Chairman Schmitz, the commission will invite veterinarians and scientists to present in the next two months. USTA Communications Department 

Columbus, OH --- The Harness Racing Social Ambassador Program, launched in Q4 2013 to help industry advocates spread the word about harness racing through social media, today announced that it has expanded its capabilities and mission to become the industry's first-ever consumer-rewards program. The new enhancements make the platform easier-to-use for even novice social media users while adding a more sophisticated point and tracking system to better support new and current fans, participating tracks and industry sponsors. "After testing the initial program with key industry Ambassadors and collecting valuable feedback and insight, we're excited to now take the program to the next level and open it up to a wider range of potential participants," said Rob Key, CEO of Converseon, which is helping to spearhead the initiative in partnership with the USTA. "While it was always the plan to eventually evolve the program into a broader consumer rewards initiative, we decided to accelerate it so that we could leverage and scale it more effectively this year, including to better support the industry's TV initiative. "The first phase was designed to bring in our most important advocates and we thank them for their participation; while this next phase is about opening the program up to all of our current and potential fans." He notes that the platform is also being utilized by select other major league sports and clubs, like the Los Angeles Dodgers. Currently, there are more than 70 Ambassadors in the program whose efforts have reached more than 200,000 current and potential fans through harness racing related conversations across social media. The new features are designed to accommodate tens of thousands of current and new fans and provide enhanced tracking capabilities that allow consumers to be rewarded not only for spreading the word through social media, but also for a wide range of other desired actions, such as watching the sport on television, checking in at a racetrack, purchasing items from a store, participating in contests and even supporting industry sponsors. The platform also presents an opportunity for harness racetracks, venues and industry events to integrate "point-of-purchase" systems as an added benefit to better provide support for attendance and participation. It creates the possibility that participating tracks could allow consumers to earn or redeem points and receive rewards at their locations. These rewards can range from free drinks or dinner, to magazine subscriptions, industry "swag" and more personal behind-the-scenes, "VIP-type" experiences. Converseon says that while initial rewards are limited, it is beginning outreach to key constituents to provide them an opportunity to participate and drive greater visibility, awareness, engagement and attendance. Tracks and other related industry groups are all invited to participate and participation is completely voluntary. "The program is a powerful way to achieve several key objectives," said Mike Tanner, Executive Vice President and CEO of the USTA. "It inspires consumers to help spread the word through social media about our sport; incentivizes them to tune into key events (whether on television, online or in person); and provides us a mechanism to reward them in a highly-compelling way for their support and loyalty while enhancing the overall consumer experience of the sport. With the enhanced tracking, we will also now be able to even better support tracks that want to participate as well as potential sponsors, which will become increasingly important as harness racing scales out its marketing efforts." The Ambassador program is fully integrated with the which is designed to be a central content hub for current and new fans to show them the "best of" the sport of harness racing. To sign up for the program, please visit or Interested tracks and other industry constituents can contact Rob Key directly at About the Harness Racing Social Media Initiative Launched in September 2013, the Harness Racing Social Media Initiative is a partnership between the United States Trotting Association, the social media consultancy, Converseon, and key industry groups to help drive marketing innovation and engagement with current and new fans for the sport. The initiative's mission is to help support key racetracks, industry groups and help provide foundational support and a common, "best practice" framework by leveraging social technologies and platforms and strategies to help positively brand the sport of harness racing and generate greater awareness, visibility and engagement with a new generation of fans. From the USTA Communications Department

Columbus, OH --- The U.S. Trotting Association announced Friday that they have reached agreement with the Little Brown Jug to assist financially in funding the broadcast of the race on Sept. 18. The USTA has agreed to contribute substantial funding to help offset the costs of production and air time. "Since the initial proposal made by the Meadowlands and Little Brown Jug, the Little Brown Jug came back with some revisions and suggestions that address many of the concerns that the USTA Executive Committee had with the original funding request," said USTA President Phil Langley. "Mike Tanner, Rob Key and Dan Leary have worked diligently with Sam McKee and Phil Terry during this past week and I think we now have a proposal worthy of our support." The Little Brown Jug principals have clarified the role of the race's main sponsor and their intent to cross promote the race and harness racing through their retail and social media outlets to complement the social media capabilities of the USTA that were a key component in the sponsor's interest in this proposal. "We appreciate this opportunity to be involved with the Little Brown Jug," said Fazoli's Director of Marketing Jon Quinn. "It's a nice match and excellent for the Fazoli's brand." "It appears that this is all coming together," said Little Brown Jug Director of Marketing Phil Terry. "We are pleased that everyone is working together to permit the Jug to be broadcast this fall and excited about the promotions, social media aspect and contest that will support it. In addition, the Little Brown Jug has also secured additional funding. "We appreciate this funding from the USTA to go along with the support from our primary sponsor and the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association as well as all of the work from Sam McKee in coordinating this effort," added Terry. With the additional clarification from the Little Brown Jug representatives that demonstrated this is the more comprehensive approach that the Executive Committee sought, the members now enthusiastically endorse this commitment to the Little Brown Jug. "I'd like to thank all of the members of the Executive Committee whose response has been so overwhelmingly positive," said Langley. "With just under five months left before the Jug takes place, these cooperative efforts have a chance to do many of the things the Executive Committee suggested last week." The final details of the contract for the broadcast and the possible acquisition of additional sponsors and advertisers are still pending. "Our contribution will give them the wherewithal to finalize their plans," added Langley. Final details will be announced when they become available. by Dan Leary, for the USTA

Columbus, OH --- The 2014 USTA annual meetings are scheduled for Sunday (March 30) and Monday (March 31) at the Hilton Columbus at Easton in Columbus, Ohio. Following Rules and Executive Committee meetings in the morning on Sunday, the Board of Directors general session, which will be streamed live on the USTA website (, will begin at 12:30 p.m. (EDT). Keynote speaker for the general session will be Ohio State Racing Commission Chairman Robert Schmitz. Among the topics on the agenda are: the introduction of new USTA directors, proclamations and recognition of former directors, an election of officers, the president’s report from Phil Langley and executive vice president’s report from Mike Tanner, a financial report, presentation/vote on revised bylaws, and rule change proposals. The final item on the general session agenda will include a discussion of medication rules and a presentation on harness racing’s social media initiative by Rob Key, CEO of Converseon, the USTA’s social media marketing agency. Meetings are scheduled Sunday afternoon and Monday morning involving the following committees: Fairs, Pari-Mutuel, Regulatory, and Registration-Owners/Breeders on Sunday and Driver/Trainer, Finance, Rules and Communications/Marketing on Monday. The President’s Awards luncheon honoring 2014 recipients Bob Carson and Gabe Wand will be held on Sunday at 11:45 a.m. The 2014 USTA annual meetings will conclude with a general session commencing at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on Monday that will include committee reports, ad hoc committee assignments, approval of the budget, and announcement of the location and dates for the 2015 annual meetings. All USTA members are welcome to attend the meetings with the exception of the Executive Committee, which is limited to committee members only. Visit for the live video stream of Sunday’s Board of Director’s general session from 12:30–3 p.m. (EDT) as well as daily recaps of the important news from the meetings. From the USTA Communications Department

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