The US Trotting Association has voted to discontinue providing funding support for out-of-competition testing. In a conference call earlier this week, the association's Executive Committee voted 16-1 on a motion to discontinue funding.
The members of the Executive Committee are USTA president Phil Langley, chairman Ivan Axelrod, vice chairman Russell Williams, treasurer Dick Brandt, Stacy Cahill, Marilyn Breuer-Bertera, Chris Schick, Gabe Wand, Sam Lilly, Alan Leavitt, Sam Beegle, Shawn Wiles, Bob Galterio, Don Marean, Jim Boese and John Brennan. According to Mike Tanner, executive vice president and CEO of the USTA, the only "no" vote was cast by Langley. Axelrod abstained and a couple of other directors did not vote.
"The dialogue was that out-of-competition testing should be done by the states and through the regulatory process. We'll support out-of-competition testing by encouraging it, but not financially," said Langley, who added that he did not wish to elaborate about the committee's discussion.
The Meadowlands has been conducting out-of-competition testing and it was revealed at this year's USTA annual meeting that the USTA had provided $15,000 in funding to support the Meadowlands' testing.
The Hambletonian Society has had pre-race samples drawn on contestants in the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown as well.
"We've done out-of-competition testing for 10 years," said Tom Charters, CEO of the Hambletonian Society. "We cooperate with racing commissions. We don't have the experts to carry this out. So we framed it in our conditions that if there was a positive, it would be acted upon by regulatory agency. We wanted our testing to be tied to the regulatory process. We try to reimburse the regulatory agency for some of the costs involved."
The USTA Executive Committee also voted to spend a total of $60,000 to fund two medication studies, one on mepivacaine, used as a local anesthesia and painkiller, and betamethasone, a steroid found in many topical treatments.
In other USTA news, Russell Williams has stepped down from his USTA's seat on the board of trustees of the American Horse Council. Marilyn Breuer-Bertera, a director from Michigan, will take Williams' spot. The USTA is also represented on the board of trustees by Tanner and Don Marean, a director from Maine who also serves in the Maine House of Representatives.—(harnessracing.com)