USTA Meeting Discusses Rule Changes

The United States Trotting Association’s District 7, encompassing Pennsylvania, held its annual membership meeting on Saturday (January 13) at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort.

District Chairman Sam Beegle was joined by directors Russell Williams, Rich Gillock, Barry Brown, and Kevin Decker.

Beegle asked Williams to guide the review of the USTA rule change proposals. Russell stated that the group would start with the series of proposals turned in by the Universal Rules Committee, chaired by John Campbell and including Pennsylvanians Williams, Brett Revington, and Anthony Clark; the other proposals were then discussed.

Below are the recommendations of those attending the District 7 meeting for their Directors at the USTA national meetings in Columbus late this winter. The recommendations are presented as they were numbered; those marked with an asterisk (*) were the proposals of the Rules Committee.

It was noted that at the beginning that the wording used in all of the proposals should indicate the rules should be applied only at “extended pari-mutuel tracks.”

1. (uniform claiming allowance percentages) – TABLED.
2. (head numbers) – APPROVED.
3. (define “length”) – APPROVED.
4. (breath analyzer requirements)* – APPROVED.
5. (vs. human illegal drugs)* – APPROVED.
6. (officials at charted matinees) – TABLED.
7. (track condition, variant, wind indicator)* – TABLED. It was proposed that the “variant” should include both wind and weather factors, and that other track condition designations should be considered.
8. (identifier verifies males) – APPROVED.
9. (stable vs. corporation) – APPROVED.
10. (scratches due to date change) – TABLED.
11. (“fair start” pole)* – APPROVED by a 14-4 vote. This proposal drew one of the most spirited participation, with the discussion basically dividing at the term “protecting the majority of the public” vs. the extra betting from “wagering whales” which often follows this triggering situation.
12. (driver in accident – medical clearance)* – APPROVED.
13. (human disorderly conduct)* – APPROVED.
14. (equality of substitute driver)* – REJECTED, primarily because it was felt the decision should belong to the trainers, not the judges.
15. (whipping regulations #1) – REJECTED; several horsemen were concerned by “loose lining,” especially in the stretch.
16. (whipping regulations #2) – REJECTED.
17. (“unnecessary” ontrack conversation)* – APRROVED WITH AMENDMENT limiting the objectionable conversation to range from “the start of the post parade to the finish.”
18. (“change of sex” notification) – APPROVED.
19. (restricted trainers/”trainers”)* – APPROVED by a 16-1 vote.
20. (pleasure horse registration) – APPROVED.
21. (correction of ownership transfer date) – APPROVED.
22. (non-reusable horse names) – APPROVED.
23. (embryo transfers) – APPROVED.
24. (dissolution of district meetings; by-law change) – REJECTED.

There was also a discussion on the coming of chip implantation, with most favouring the move but some expressing a concern for hardship imposed on several groups, with the Amish particularly focused on, but the low cost of the scanners offset many of these concerns.

(With files from USHWA)