The USTA board of directors' annual meeting concluded Monday (March 12) with approval of the 2018 USTA budget, final decisions on the USTA rule and bylaw change proposals, and the formation of two new committees to further USTA projects.
The finance committee approved the 2018 budget, which projects a surplus of some $256,000 over projected expenses.
The rules committees approved, rejected, or amended the 24 proposed changes to the USTA rules and bylaws. Highlights include installation of a fair start pole at each track, the prohibition of head numbers at pari-mutuel racetracks, expansion of pleasure horse registration, and the adoption of a whipping policy adopted from consensus at the 2017 World Trotting Conference. A full rule and bylaw change report will be posted on ustrotting.com later this week. The changes will also be published in the April 2018 issue of Hoof Beats.
In the closing session, President Russell Williams announced the creation of two new subcommittees to further two new USTA projects. He announced that directors Don Marean (District 9), Jacqueline Ingrassia (District 12), and Fred Nichols (District 9) will begin work on the Standardbred Transition Alliance. He also said that Gabe Wand (District 4B), Marilyn Breuer-Bertera (District 2), and Marean will move forward with the USTA youth delegate initiative as the youth leadership development subcommittee.
Also in the closing session, Jason Settlemoir (District 8) asked the board to consider polling USTA members as to whether or not they would approve of five percent of purse funds from tracks with expanded gaming to be placed in a nationwide marketing fund.
Ivan Axelrod, USTA chairman of the board, responded that yes, he thinks that if posed this question, most members would say yes to "spending other people’s money" to market the sport. What comes next would be the challenge, since determining the means of obtaining the money, then determining who deployed the money and how the money would be utilized remained as questions too big to be answered, regardless of the results of a survey.
"We know what the answer is going to be, so I think that would make our members more upset with us because we couldn’t do it, than by not asking at all."
The next USTA board of directors annual meeting will be held March 9-11, 2019, at the Hilton-Easton in Columbus, Ohio.