The USTA Registration Committee approved a proposal that will require all Standardbreds, starting with foals born in 2019, to be implanted with a microchip for identification during the USTA Board of Directors meeting Sunday (March 11) at the Hilton-Easton.
The microchips, which are manufactured by Merck/HomeAgain, will be implanted in the horse’s nuchal ligament, which is high on the neck between the poll and the withers. When scanned with a special reader, the reader will display a number which will correspond to the horse’s USTA identification number. The reader will also display the horse’s body temperature.
"The chips are ‘passive,’ which means that when scanned, they give us the identification number and the horse’s temperature," said TC Lane, USTA Director of Registry and Member Services. "However, that number could then be tied to software that could display pertinent medical records, vaccination records, or even eligibility data."
Microchips will replace freeze brands and lip tattoos as means of Standardbred identification. USTA ID technicians will be trained to implant the microchips for members. During the same visit, they will also collect a DNA sample from the horse for testing.
In the proposal approved by the committee, all racehorses would be required to have a microchip implanted by 2021.
In his 2018 USTA Statistical Report, Lane showed the directors that mares bred was up again for the second straight year. In 2015, 12,325 mares were bred. In 2016, 13,441 mares were bred. In 2017, 13,525 mares were bred. Foal numbers are also up, with 7,210 registered from the 2016 crop, 7,309 from the 2017 crop, and 7,980 projected to be registered in 2018 (based on a conception rate of 59 percent of the 13,525 mares bred).
Also in the registration committee, the USTA’s new eSales portal was introduced by Aimee Hock, USTA Assistant Registrar, and Jessica Schroeder, USTA Member Enrichment and Outreach Coordinator.
The portal will benefit sales companies by allowing them to authorize a transfer of a horse without the need of a hard-copy registration when the horse has a paperless registration. The first phase of the project is currently being tested and is projected to launch this summer.
"By helping sales companies conduct their business, we are also streamlining processes for our members," said Hock. "Moving into the digital age of electronically authorizing transfers of ownership is an exciting step forward as we work to improve our Online Services capabilities for our members."
The Registration Committee heard presentations from Dr. Molly McCue of the University of Minnesota, who covered advances in equine genetics and genomics, and Lisa Pfister, CEO and founder of PFERA Inc., a cutting-edge equine reproductive biotechnology company based in Canada.
During the meeting of the Racing Committee, which is comprised of the regulatory, driver/trainer, pari-mutuel, and fairs subcommittees, Michele Kopiec, USTA Racetrack Operations and Licensing Manager, showed the committee the new online driver/trainer license application portal through USTA Online Services. Benefits of the online service include quicker approval process for applicants and automated eligibility checking for references.
Jeff Gregory (District 12), chairman of the driver/trainer committee, told the board that he will be doing a review of the questions of the USTA driver/trainer licensing test.
Joe Faraldo (District 8A), chair of the regulatory committee, told the committee about the uniform racing rules subcommittee, which is working on creating a set of Standardbred-specific model medication rules that it can then take to regulators for adoption.
"We want to use RCI (Racing Commissioners International) the same way that RMTC (Racing Medication Testing Consortium) is using RCI—take our medication recommendations to RCI and they can apply them to the various racing commissions."
Also in the Racing Committee, Sherry Antion-Mohr, USTA Director of Information Technology, responded to concerns from horsemen that the random draw feature of eTrack could be tampered with. She explained that the process was completely random with little human involvement and generated completely random numbers and random outcomes.
"It’s an automated process—it’s a ‘black box’ that is fairly simple, but in no part of the process can you predict what numbers are going to come out or who is going to get what," said Antion-Mohr.
The USTA Board of Directors meeting concludes Monday (March 12) with the Rules Committee, which will approve or reject this year’s rule change proposals; the Finance Committee; and the final General Session, where the 2019 USTA budget will be approved by the full board and President Williams will give his closing remarks. (USTA)