Columbus, OH — The following is a statement from the United States Trotting Association regarding the scratch of Bettor Joy N at Miami Valley Raceway on Monday (May 6).
The U.S. Trotting Association is aware of and disappointed by the Ohio State Racing Commission’s eleventh-hour scratch of Bettor Joy N from the Sam “Chip” Noble III Memorial this afternoon at Miami Valley Raceway. It has been conveyed to us that this was done because Bettor Joy N, while microchipped, did not possess a freeze brand.
The USTA approved the use of microchips for identification purposes at its March 2018 Board of Directors meeting, and alerted all state racing commissions as to this change in policy shortly thereafter.
Specifically, foals of 2019 and beyond are required to be microchipped. Starting in 2021, all Standardbred horses competing at United States racetracks will be required to have a microchip, including those that were previously freeze branded. Bettor Joy N does not have a freeze brand. She is a New Zealand import and was microchipped after her arrival in the United States in December 2018.
We have had numerous conversations, starting early last summer and as recently as late last month, with the Ohio State Racing Commission about this rule, and were left with the impression that there were no objections to it nor confusion about its application. All Ohio racetracks, including Miami Valley, were provided with microchip readers free of charge as part of their USTA membership benefits. We are particularly dismayed by third-party reports indicating that Bettor Joy N was allowed to be treated with Lasix at the appointed time, and that only afterward was it conveyed that she would not be allowed to participate in the Noble.
Standardbred horse identification is central to the USTA’s mandate, and an area in which we have significant expertise, responsibility, and experience. Rule changes are deliberated and voted upon by a board of 60 directors — including eight from Ohio — who represent all facets of the industry. Moreover, our outreach to alert and educate the industry about the microchip rule change has been steady and ongoing for 15 months.
We have experienced no similar issues with any other jurisdiction regarding the introduction of microchips, and we remain available to work with the OSRC to ensure that this scenario does not repeat itself.