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Hambletonian Society Adds Director, Endorses Gural's Initiatives

Published: August 10, 2012 1:21 pm ET

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At the Annual Meeting of The Hambletonian Society held Aug. 3, the board of directors voted to strongly endorse track owner Jeff Gural's initiatives on whipping restrictions and uniform medication rules, elected a new director and opened Hambletonian No. 90, the stake for foals of 2012.

As owner of the New Meadowlands LLC, now host of the Hambletonian through 2015, Gural addressed the board prior to the meeting. His commitment to maintaining harness racing at the Meadowlands and reinforcement of the sport’s marquee event, the Hambletonian, by contracting for it through 2015 was acknowledged by the board as an extraordinary effort deserving of their continued full support.

In addition, the board agreed with the need to seek increased funding targeted to specific marketing efforts for the industry, more efficient testing and effective research for illegal medications, as well as the necessity for on-going cooperation between racetracks across state lines in scheduling live racing and special events. Gural also spoke about these challenging issues to the directors.

Since 2008, the Hambletonian Society has advocated stricter rules governing the prompting of horses during the race including the elimination of one-handed whipping. It has offered a rule change at the USTA and encouraged the commissions in the eight jurisdictions in which it services races to require a driver to keep a line in each hand for the entire duration of the race while maintaining control over the horse. It has also endorsed the Association of Racing Commissioners International model rule to that affect. The board strongly endorsed Gural’s stance on these rules at the Meadowlands and will continue to push for passage of rules pertaining to race track safety and humane treatment of horses.

Interstate uniformity in medication rules, withdrawal times, testing thresholds and penalties have been a goal of those invested in harness racing for decades. Gural’s frustration with the progress on these matters, especially in the Mid-Atlantic region, is shared deeply by the Hambletonian Society board, and though progress has been made through the Society and the USTA’s participation on the Racing, Medication & Testing Consortium, the end result is far from satisfactory or complete.

The Society reaffirmed its commitment to the well being of the sport with its medication and testing conditions in the Breeders Crown and Hambletonian, harness racing’s most prestigious events. In addition, the Society supports the direction taken by the United States Trotting Association and Gural in finding additional funds for drug testing and research on exotic “unknowns”; as well as finding alternative ways to fund drug testing that are effective, consistent and economical.

Gural-operated tracks host 36 stake races owned or serviced by the Hambletonian Society. "Both partners are dedicated to working on their common problems of conflicting race dates and venues, and although the horsemen and tracks in some states are to be commended for their extraordinary allocation of resources for marketing and promotion of harness racing, more and consistent funding is needed from the industry to meet the challenges of the future. The Society has always supported and enhanced the Standardbred industry through its funding of television and other promotional initiatives as well as participation in progressive industry-wide programs such as the RMTC. It will continue to do so, especially with the co-operation and dedication of Jeff and his investors." said Tom Charters, President & C.E.O. of the Hambletonian Society.

In addition to the approval of the conditions for 2015 Hambletonian (and Oaks) and 2016 Hambletonian Maturity at the Annual Meeting, Mr. David Reid, 47, of Briarcliff Manor, NY, was named to the board of directors of the Hambletonian Society. A former yearling manager and currently co-owner of Preferred Equine Marketing Sales Company, Reid is a well-respected bloodstock agent and businessman. He has owned shares in multiple horses and stable partnerships, including the legendary Moni Maker, one of the sports richest and fastest trotting mares.

The Hambletonian Society is a non-profit organization formed in 1924 to sponsor the race for which it was named, the Hambletonian Stake. The Society’s mission is to encourage and support the breeding of Standardbred horses through the development, administration and promotion of harness racing stakes, early-closing races and other special events. The Hambletonian Society services 122 of harness racing’s richest and most prestigious events, including harness racing’s most prominent race, the Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters, its filly division, the Hambletonian Oaks and the sport’s championship series, the Breeders Crown.

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