The American Harness Racing Secretaries (AHRS) concluded their three days of meetings on Saturday morning in Deerfield Beach, Fla., followed by an awards luncheon.
The final session started off with last minute checking of hundreds of stakes events with some changes in dates, purses and names of events. Tracks and race organizations now have until early January to finalize and submit their race conditions for publication. None of the changes can be announced to the public until all final documents are submitted.
There were roundtable discussions after the dates changes were finalized and the topic of high interest to most everyone was Friday's presentation on electronic entries by USTA's T C Lane.
While everyone was on board that the presentation was excellent and that is will help speed up and create more accurate entry data into the USTA system there are concerns for those who do not have strong computer skills. It was also noted that the system is very easy to use and that trainers will adapt with time and that the system will be accepted and used by the majority of trainers in the industry. Talks also took place about electronic equipment cards and ID's for horses to help make it easier on the paddock people doing their jobs.
The biggest issues were that of computer hackers being able to enter the system and create havoc with the entries and if the USTA system will have proper safeguards to prevent hackers from gaining access. It was also noted that some people may try and look at entries for stakes races before the box closes to see if they really want to enter or not depending if they can see how many horses are entered and who they are. These issues will be brought up to the USTA for follow up discussions.
Discussions also took place about possible universal consideration of the mandatory driver and trainer fees paid from purses. That in the "old” days owners were paid the entire purse and then they worked their own deals with trainers and drivers. Now most every track deducts 5% of the owners purse to both the trainer and driver and that consideration should be given to changing that percentage to 7% for trainers and 3% for drivers. It was also noted that some tracks paid a stipend to every driver competing in a race, up to $25 if they fail to finish in the top five.
At the end of meeting luncheon a huge round of applause was given to both Carol Cramer and Sharon Hermann for their work in helping make the AHRS meeting run so smoothly. Carol Cramer is the one that imputes all the data for every stakes race in North America and works with all the race secretaries, stakes organizations and staking service companies and has done this service for many years with assistance from Sharon Hermann, who says she is retired but continues to assist AHRS.
It was also noted during the meetings that Carol Cramer has been inducted into the Living Hall of Fame Communicators Corner for all of her hard work and devotion to the sport during her long career.
The meetings concluded with Ken Marshall from Hazel Park presenting outgoing AHRS president, Connie Hochstetler from The Red Mile with a special plaque commemorating her outstanding service to the organization over the past two years as president. She will be replaced by Ian Fleming from Clinton Raceway as the new president. (by Steve Wolf)