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Post Time with Dan Gall

Post Time

The Canadian Rules Committee was established in September 2017 and was spurred on by a Post Time article in TROT when I was making comment about the importance of consistency in rules in sports. Specifically during the World Junior Hockey Tournament when the gold medal was awarded by a shoot-out rather than an edge-of-your seat, sudden-death overtime.

That article generated numerous comments and events, including an online survey on asking whether our members and race fans wanted consistent racing rules on the track (the answer was a resounding Yes!). This was followed by a meeting with Jean Major, President and CEO of AGCO, who stated he was a strong proponent of one rule book for harness racing in Canada, and encouraged Standardbred Canada to lead the charge in getting the Canadian regulators from all jurisdictions together to discuss the possibility.

In conjunction with this, the then newly appointed President of the Hambletonian Society, John Campbell, announced his interest in working on a North American Harness Racing Rule Book and struck an American committee with the USTA to commence work on the initiative.

In August 2017, John and I met at the World Trotting Conference in Prince Edward Island and discussed how we could work together for the same end result. We agreed that he would come on-board as co-Chair of the Canadian Committee, and Standardbred Canada would be represented on the USTA Rules committee with Directors Bill O'Donnell and Bill McClinchey, and myself representing Canada and the association.

Since that time, and with over 20 teleconferences and one two-day face-to-face meeting with the Canadian committee, we have turned a corner and are now working on launching the new rule book for Canada in early 2019.

To be clear, our committee has been focusing on racing rules on the track that will assist the sport, fan, owners, drivers and trainers with consistent on-track racing rules from province to province.

Some of the work that has been done was just cleaning up language so that it was consistent in all jurisdictions. Some of the other work involved spirited debates, significant concessions from all provinces, and a willingness and uniformity to agree on the more contentious rules.

Clarity, agreement and consistent language has been reached in numerous areas, including pylon regulations, the fair start pole, urging, interference and breaking rules.

As we turn the corner and look at next steps for the Racing Rules Committee, Standardbred Canada will be working with the jurisdictions on preparing communications and information for our regulators to take to their stakeholders to discuss the changes. We will then prepare to launch the new rules once all have been advised, and have had an opportunity to review and provide input.

We are working within tight timelines to have this completed as soon as possible so that Canada will have its National Harness Racing Rule Book to refer to for the upcoming 2019 season.

A lot of people have told me this initiative has been attempted before and that it will never get done.

Well, we are very close to completing the project and it has been a rewarding and enriching experience on so many levels. The great rapport, participation and commitment of all committee members has been nothing short of outstanding. Also, the project has brought an opportunity for the committee to discuss a variety of other racing related topics that can and will probably lead to further enhancements for the sport, with a key focus on consistency for the betting public and race fan.

I would like to take the time to acknowledge our committee members which have and does include the following individuals:

Western Region:
Mike Brown - British Columbia Gaming Enforcement
Doug Fenske - Horse Racing Alberta
Val Isman - Manitoba Horse Racing
Gerry Hudon - Driver, Trainer, Owner, Alberta
Doug Schnieder - Saskatchewan Racing Authority

Ontario Region:
Bill McClinchey - Woodbine Mohawk Park, and Director, Standardbred Canada
Bill O'Donnell - COSA, and Director, Standardbred Canada
Brent Stone - AGCO
Mike Wilson - AGCO
Tom Miller - AGCO

Quebec Region:
Marco Bergeron - RACJ
Monique Nadeau - RACJ
Karine Piche - RACJ
Claude Beaubien - Driver, Trainer
Francis Richard - Driver

Eastern Region:
Dean Towers - Player/Racing Fan
Paul Hogan - APHRC
Roger DesRoches - APHRC

These individuals have been absolutely outstanding over the past 14 months, making themselves available every Friday afternoon to discuss and debate another section of the rule books. Great commitment, great team, and great people!

The other people who are playing a significant role on the committee includes Standardbred Canada's Communications Manager Darryl Kaplan who has been leading the discussions, reviewing our findings, and working on consensus with the committee on all the rules and sections we have been discussing. Then there is the awesome administrative support that we have gotten across the country to cross reference all the rules and compile them into a very manageable but significantly sizeable document.

Last but not least, John Campbell has been an outstanding co-Chair providing perspective, leadership and commitment, attending each and every meeting, and updating the Canadian committee on the USTA project.

Although the USTA has a much more challenging task at hand, we are still highly confident that at the end of the day a North American Harness Racing Rule book will be established for the betterment of the sport and racing fan in both countries.

We are excited and encouraged by the work that has been done thus far. It has been an awesome testament of what can be achieved when a group of professionals get together, park the egos at the door, and roll up the sleeves to get to work, all in the name of reaching a collective goal for the betterment of the sport.

Dan Gall, President & CEO, Standardbred Canada
[email protected]

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