Summary of USTA rule changes from annual meeting that become effective May 1

Columbus, OH — Numerous rules and bylaw changes aimed at providing protection for the wagering public, expediting the appeal process for fines and suspensions, and the governance of the U.S. Trotting Association Board of Directors were approved at the 2019 annual meeting held March 8-11 in Columbus, Ohio. All rules and bylaw changes will become effective on May 1 of this year.

The adopted rule changes intended to benefit bettors were submitted by the Ad Hoc Universal Rules Committee and its Chairman John Campbell. Among them are: the definition of an extended break, the speed of the starting gate and intentionally charging the gate as an advantage at the start of a race, violations of the starting rule when deemed to aid other horses with common ownership or trainer connections, the positioning of horses when there are two tiers, the position of the leading horse in a race, interference and careless driving infractions, allowing horses to pass on the inside, and kicking.

Bylaw changes regarding the Right of Appeal, the timing for filing of an appeal and the hearing for that appeal, the process of appeals involving district boards, the president or executive vice president and the executive committee of the USTA, as well as the prohibition of further appeal were addressed in changes to Article VIII, Bylaw 8.

Other changes to Article X, Bylaw 12 on Association Governance address the Duties and Responsibilities of Directors and Officers, their fiduciary responsibilities, time and attention requirements to the job, attendance at district and annual meetings, conflicts of interest disclosure, conduct related to abuse and harassment of other directors or USTA employees, and a whistleblower policy “to promote openness, honesty, integrity and ethical conduct by directors, officers, agents and employees of the association.”

Some of the other rule changes adopted at the meeting involved claims, entries, media entry into the paddock, scoring of horses coming to the gate, and the age of horses eligible for Racing Under Saddle races.

All of the rule changes are being sent to the Association of Racing Commissioners International and to state racing commissions with recommendations to adopt them and to horsemen’s associations to assist them in promoting these rules to their state regulators to encourage their implementation.

For a complete list of all these rule changes, click here.

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