USTA 2020 Annual Meeting, held via teleconference, concludes

Columbus, OH — The 2020 U.S. Trotting Association Board of Directors Annual Meeting, which was conducted through a series of teleconferences, concluded Thursday (April 9) with the closing session of the full board. Among the highlights of the annual meeting were the election of some new officers, approval of the 2020 budget as well as new rules that will take effect on May 1, plus the announcement of a new location for the 2021 annual meeting.

Teleconferences were required for all committee and board meetings after the COVID-19 outbreak forced the cancellation of the meetings that were scheduled for March 13-16 in Columbus, Ohio. Following is the schedule of the meetings that were held during the past two weeks: Racing and Registration Committees on Tuesday (March 31); Rules Committee on Thursday (April 2); Finance Committee on Friday (April 3); Executive Committee on Tuesday (April 7) with the annual meeting concluding with the full Board of Directors general session on Thursday (April 9).

Joe Faraldo was elected as new chairman of the board during 2020 USTA Annual Meeting. Mark Hall/USTA Photo.

Following are the results of the officers’ elections: In the election of the new chairman of the board, District 8A Chairman Joe Faraldo defeated District 9 Chairman Don Marean, who abdicated his USTA vice-chairman position to run. Faraldo replaces District 3 Chairman Ivan Axelrod, who did not seek reelection. District 7 Director Mark Loewe defeated District 4 Chairman Gabe Wand for vice chairman, and District 5 Director Jim Miller defeated District 1 Director Donald “Skip” Hoovler for treasurer.

Sally Stauffer was unopposed as secretary while President Russell Williams, whose term expires in 2023, remains in that position.

Among the newly adopted rules were: Rule 4.70 Gene Doping – prohibiting the non-therapeutic use of gene therapy to improve performance, Rule 5.19 Racetrack Maintenance – that sets specific standards for staffing, grading, material for surface cushion and conditioning of the track at all extended pari-mutuel tracks with the requirement that racetrack operators must ensure that those standards are maintained, and Rule 17.07 Contents of Application for Trainer’s License – that, effective Jan. 1, 2021, will require new trainer applicants to be a USTA member and to show evidence of at least three consecutive years of experience as a groom or trainer licensed by a state racing commission or be issued a Limited license.

These approved regulations will now be circulated to the various racing commissions and to the Association of Racing Commissioners International for adoption into their model rules.

To see the complete list of rule changes, click here.

In his concluding remarks, USTA President Russell Williams discussed the difficult times that the harness racing industry and its participants are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the end of our meetings I always like to say what (former USTA President) Corwin Nixon used to say, ‘This is the best meeting we’ve ever had,” said President Russell Williams.

“When we look at the present landscape, it’s tempting to say that this was the worst meeting we’ve ever had. Almost our entire sport is shut down. It is not too much to say that death walks among us. But that’s not the whole story, at all,” added Williams.

“The United States Trotting Association Board of Directors and staff have conducted themselves with courage, with wisdom, with dedication, and with compassion. I consider it a true privilege to be associated with you all.

“The spirit that we have shown makes this, by far, the best meeting that we’ve ever had. Let us go forward in this spirit. We shall find a way to win,” concluded Williams.

Outgoing Chairman Ivan Axelrod closed the meeting by announcing that the 2021 annual meeting will be held March 12-15 in Columbus, Ohio, at a new location, the Sheraton Columbus Hotel at Capitol Square located downtown at 75 East State Street.

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