This year, there is a proposal up for consideration by the USTA to allow for the issuance of a non-racing registration for horses that previously raced. It is strongly urged that the USTA approve this proposal.
Currently, there is an uproar in the thoroughbred world regarding Grand Forks, a twelve year old stakes-winning mare attempting to make her first start in nine years. The mare had been an unsuccessful broodmare and the owner sold the horse to a new owner under the assumption the horse would be used as a riding horse. The mistake the old owner made was that she only marked the bill of sale 'not for breeding' but after a nine year layoff, felt no need to mark it 'not for racing'. The new owner, after starting to ride the horse, felt the horse wanted to race again and put her in training.
There are people trying to make this out as an animal rights issue. They are wrong. None of the principals involved are alleging the horse is not sound. It is a question of the new owner not following the old owner's wishes. In harness racing, many times a horse that is not successful in breeding is returned to racing (usually not that long a layoff); as long as the horse is sound and under the age of fourteen they can race at our raceways. Legally, the new owner has a right to race this horse. Morally, the new owner is wrong.
Harness racing has the opportunity to avoid this type of problem by adopting the proposed rule change regarding registrations. Selling or transferring ownership of a horse you don't want racing again? Change the registration to 'non-racing' and it is done, end of story. No he said/she said; it will be in black and white. As long as the original owner is willing to take less money if selling the horse as non-racing stock, that is all that matters. If you don't re-register the horse as non-racing, you have no right to complain if the horse shows up at your local raceway.
We don't need a Grand Forks. Pass rule change proposal number nine.