The U.S. Trotting Association's 2014 annual meeting, held in Columbus, Ohio, concluded Monday afternoon with the organization moving into the future with some new andupdated initiatives.
During the two-day meetings, the directors were updated on the progress made in the industry's social media initiative; given a detailed overview with a video presentation of the USTA's innovative, new online entry platform; voted to change the timing of races to one-hundredths of a second starting in 2016; allocated $100,000 this year for research by the USTA Medication Advisory Committee; and received details on the expansion of the USTA Driving School with a new "graduate” program and sponsorship from the New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund.
In addition, it was announced that four ad hoc committees would be formed, including one to deliberate the funding of a national TV package for harness racing in 2014 and another to consider a move of the USTA headquarters and sale of the buildings in Columbus.
Rob Key, CEO and founder of the award-winning social marketing agency Converseon, gave a detailed presentation of the industry's initiative in the Communications and Marketing Committee on Monday. He presented the new Harness Racing Fan Zone website (www.HarnessRacingFanZone.com) and Social Ambassador Program while encouraging the directors and the rest of the industry to become more involved.
"We now have major league assets like NASCAR, the NFL and NHL to showcase our sport,” said Key. "Harness racing is an exciting sport that has a rich history and tradition that we need to share in order to create and engage new fans.”
Among the announcements on the concluding day of the Annual Meeting were that the USTA Online Entry application, which has been in beta testing at numerous racetracks, will be ready to go live on April 7 at all participating tracks, and that the keynote speaker for the 2014 USTA Driving School in Goshen, N.Y. from June 11-15 will be trainer Ron Burke.
On Monday, the board also held its Recognition Luncheon where Phil Langley presented his annual President's Awards to USTA director Gabe Wand and USTA website contributor Bob Carson.
"These awards are presented to those who have done things over and above what is expected in racing or may not have been recognized for their contributions,” said Langley.
Wand was recognized for his efforts on behalf of fair racing in Wisconsin, while Carson was lauded for his informative, entertaining and thought-provoking stories on www.ustrotting.com.
"A writer withouta platform is like a pole vaulter without a pole,” said Carson in accepting the award. "I'd like to thank the USTA for giving me that platform.”
The 2014 budget was approved and the dates for association's 2015 Annual Meeting were tentatively announced for March 14-16 at the Columbus Hilton at Easton in Columbus, Ohio.There will be discussion of extending the meetings next year that could affect those dates. (USTA)