The annual convocation of directors of the United States Trotting Association got underway Sunday afternoon in Columbus, Ohio.
With Chairman of the Board Ivan Axelrod presiding, the assembled directors heard from Robert Schmitz, chairman of the Ohio Racing Commission. Schmitz spoke on the importance of harness racing to the Ohio economy and the support of Governor John Kasich in recognizing racing's roots in the farm community.
In remarks video streamed live to members on http://www.ustrotting.com/, President Phil Langley updated the group on the USTA's efforts to work with the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium in developing model rules and medication guidelines without overlooking the differences in breeds. Usage patterns and racing patterns have highlighted some major differences between the less-frequently raced Thoroughbreds versus Standardbreds, who often race weekly.
There were no challengers to the existing slate of USTA officers, which will remain: Phil Langley, president; Ivan Axelrod, chairman of the board; Russell Williams, vice chairman; Dick Brandt, treasurer and Barbara Brooks, secretary.
Rob Key, CEO and founder of Converseon, updated the group on the social media platforms that have been developed, including a centralized harness racing website, http://www.harnessracingfanzone.com/, which recently was unveiled with a "100 Greatest Moments in Harness Racing” interactive contest. He emphasized that it was a joint venture among the USTA, Harness Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Harness Writers Association.
The Harness Racing Fan Zone (@harnessracingFZ on Twitter) mirrors similar platforms offered by major league sports, like Major League Baseball, the National Football League and NASCAR.
"The foundation is in place,” said Key. "We need to spend time on transparency and openness and create communities.”
Key predicted the new website would, "give people a feel for what it's like to be in the sport.”
He spoke about the social media ambassador's platform that has been created for participants to share their experiences in the sport.
Moving forward, tracks will be urged to partner with the Fan Zone in order to significantly expand awareness and interest in harness racing.
A replay of the full board session may be viewed by clicking here.
Committee meetings followed, with rule changes considered in the Fairs, Pari-Mutuel, Regulatory and Registration Committees. Further discussion of rule change proposals will take place Monday in the Rules Committee and the final vote will be rendered at the meeting of all directors Monday afternoon. (HRC)