Columbus, OH — Incumbents Joe Faraldo and Mark Loewe were re-elected as chairperson and vice-chairperson, respectively, of the U.S. Trotting Association Board of Directors on Saturday (March 11) at the opening general session on the second day of the annual meeting.
Faraldo defeated challenger Don Marean (chairperson of District 9) while Loewe won over Ivan Axelrod (chairperson of District 3).
Faraldo kicked off the opening general session at 10:30 a.m.
After the Pledge of Allegiance and roll call, Faraldo acknowledged three new directors, Rick Kane (District 7), Shawn Wiles (District 8) and Matt Sparacino (District 11). Wiles previously served on the Board from 2004 through 2017.
The President’s report followed.
In his report, President Russell Williams informed the Board on the progress of the Racehorse Health and Safety Act, alternative legislation to the current Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act law.
“Instead of talking about HISA and all the problems that could bring, there is replacement legislation for HISA that is going to be introduced in this session of Congress,” said Williams. “It started with the racetrack veterinarians, it’s gone through the HBPA (Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Agency), so the Thoroughbred horse people have worked on it. The Quarter Horse people have worked on it and the USTA has been in the center of getting the thing shaped up for introduction.
“We actually got it sent by a member of Congress to legislation services and that’s a big moment.”
Williams also made comments on a new website project that the USTA has been working on with the Electronic Media Committee, the significant expansion of the organization’s presence on social media, discussions with the French, and new genome and EPO studies that the USTA is involved with.
The election of officers was next.
Director Steve McCoy conducted the election that saw Faraldo and Loewe re-elected. Along with those two, the officers for the USTA in 2023 include President Russell Williams, Treasurer Jim Miller and Corporate Secretary Michele Kopiec.
Next on the agenda, USTA Controller Dennis Fisher gave his annual presentation on the organization’s financials and budget followed by two sub-committee presentations, the first by David Reid on the Standardbred Transition Alliance and the second by Loewe and Ashley Tetrick on the Electronic Media Committee.
The election results were then announced and with no other business to discuss, Faraldo adjourned the meeting.
After the break from the morning session at the annual Recognition Luncheon, Williams made a presentation of the President’s Award to Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association Executive Director Renée Mancino, who unfortunately was unable to attend.
Saturday afternoon featured two more committee meetings, Racing and Registration.
The Racing Committee began with discussion and voting on rule and bylaw change proposals. Regulatory Committee Chairperson Joe Faraldo led a discussion on the required licensed paramedic, emergency medical technician and ambulance that are mandatory according to USTA rule to be at the track 30 minutes before the first race or qualifying race.
USTA COO/Registrar TC Lane gave an update of the USTA Officials Intern and Education programs.
Then Fairs Committee chairperson Skip Hoovler and USTA Outreach and Membership Enrichment Coordinator Jessica Schroeder provided an update on the Ohio County Fair Best Practices. Schroeder also provided an update on the USTA Matching Funds Program.
On behalf of USTA Strategic Wagering Committee Chairperson Michael Carter, Mark Loewe gave an update on the program. He also led a discussion on Grand Circuit races and consideration of a graded stakes program.
USTA Racetrack Operations and Licensing Manager Michele Kopiec provided a summary of the new tote feed integration with eTrack.
As part of the Driver/Trainer Committee report, Kopiec informed the directors that the new driver/trainer exam and study guide is now available in Spanish.
Steve Oldford did a recap of the 2022 amateur driving club activity and Mike McNealy of Van Gundy insurance provided an in-depth overview of the disability income and new outrider programs.
The Racing Committee finished their meeting with a presentation by Nevada Standardbred Association President Tim Bohannon on efforts to bring harness racing to that state with a track plus equine and entertainment complex in Pahrump, Nevada.
In the final meeting on Saturday after voting on rule and bylaw change proposals, Lane provided the Registration Committee with the 2022 Summary Report and Trends, the annual statistical report for the industry. He also reported on the progress of research underway with UC Davis on genomics and foal abnormalities as well as assistance that the USTA is providing to the University of Minnesota in studies on osteochondrosis, recurrent exertional rhabdomylysis, and cardiac arrhythmias.
USTA Assistant Registrar Aimee Hock provided an in-depth overview of the eight-person USTA Member Services team and services provided in 2022. Schroeder gave a review of the first year of the Standardbred Incentive Program. Finally, Dr. Andy Roberts led a discussion of unilateral versus bilateral ovariectomy.
The meeting was adjourned and the second day of the USTA Board of Directors annual meeting concluded.
The third and final day of the meetings will begin at 9 a.m. Sunday with the Finance Committee meeting followed by the Rules Committee and concluding with the Board of Directors closing general session.
Videos from the Board of Directors opening general session can be viewed on the USTA YouTube channel here.