Columbus, OH – A two-day Racing Officials Continuing Education Seminar, presented by the U.S. Trotting Association and held at The Meadows racetrack, concluded Monday (Nov. 20). The meeting was hosted by USTA COO TC Lane and Racetrack Operations and Licensing Manager Michele Kopiec.
The agenda consisted of a wide variety of topics discussed by a group of roughly 40 racing officials representing 10 states throughout the event.
The opening session on Sunday (Nov. 19) began with a discussion regarding the investigation of hidden ownership in racehorses, led by recently retired Delaware Standardbred Owners Association Executive Director, Sal DiMario. The Sunday agenda also included a presentation on the existing USTA sulky testing and safety regulations by Michele Kopiec and concluded with race review analysis, highlighting numerous races from the past year. This lively session was led by Indiana Harness Horse Racing Commission presiding judge Kevin Gumm, who most recently presided over the 2023 Breeders Crown.
Monday morning (Nov. 20) opened with Pennsylvania Harness Racing Commission Director of Enforcement Jason Klouser walking the group through the recent investigation and prosecution of a Thoroughbred trainer by the PA Racing Commission for the neglect of a racehorse. Klouser also spoke on the Organization of Racing Investigators (ORI) and the resources they can provide to racing commissions.
The day continued with a discussion of equine welfare, led by Ohio State Racing Commission presiding judge Doug Thomas and the steps officials need to take to protect racehorses and provide transparency to the public. The afternoon topics consisted of dialogue on the current processes for official’s licensing, highlighting the need for licensees to acquire practical experience in the field to meet licensing requirements, and a roundtable discussion on the use of the eTrack stewards’ list.
The two-day meeting concluded with a discussion of and voting on the 2024 USTA rule change proposals that apply specifically to racing. The group voted as follows:
Proposal #1 – Purse distribution for no contest races: ACCEPTED
Proposal #3 – Define “ambulance” and the requirement of an ambulance when racing: REJECTED
Proposal #4 – Expand definition of accident warning lights: ACCEPTED
Proposal #5 – Require a chain-link fence in front of the grandstand at county fairs: REJECTED
Proposal #6 – Require driving line buckles be taped with black tape: ACCEPTED
Proposal #7 – Expand duties of the judges to include the use of warning lights and siren: ACCPETED
Proposal #8 – Postponement/cancellation of races in extreme weather: REJECTED
Proposal #9 – Expand procedure of the judges to explain the use of warning lights and siren: ACCEPTED, but with concerns on the logistics of a siren
Proposal #12 – No horse 15 or older is eligible to perform in any race: ACCEPTED
Proposal #13 – Only one tier of starters at county fair tracks with judge’s discretion: REJECTED
Proposal #14 – Splitting of horses in multiple divisions: ACCEPTED
Proposal #15 – Publicly publish draw results: REJECTED
Proposal #16 – Require a driver to drive horse on which he/she is listed: REJECTED
Proposal #17 – Penalty for restart: REJECTED
Proposal #18 – Penalty for causing a race to be delayed: REJECTED
Proposal #19 – Remove “before dismounting” as a requirement in a driver filing an objection: REJECTED
Proposal #20 – Horses must race within 30 minutes of assigned Lasix window: REJECTED
Proposal #21 – Five-year warranty to be provided by a sulky manufacturer and/or USTA: REJECTED
Proposal #22 – Require change of company ownership and modification of approved sulky to be reported to USTA: ACCEPTED
Proposal #23 – Combine Coggin’s test rules to remove repetitive language: ACCEPTED
Proposal #24 – Require tracks to record and keep on file Coggins test results and vaccine documentation: REJECTED with the concern of different requirements by each racing jurisdiction
To maintain accreditation, all racing officials, stewards and judges, must attend a continuing education session approved by the Racing Officials Accreditation Program (ROAP) totaling at least 16 credit hours every two years. The ROAP CE is available to any accredited racing official, steward or judge. In late spring of 2024, ROAP, along with the USTA, will be hosting a full 60-hour accreditation program. More details of that offering will be made when available. We encourage interested individuals to monitor the ROAP website for the latest information.
The date and location for the 2024 official’s continuing education event is to be determined and will be announced at a later date.