As planning goes into the 2014 racing season, the time has come for owners and trainers to step up and support RUS racing by letting it be known they want the option to race their horses under saddle.
For the last two years, purses for these non-wagering events have been put up by various parties in the industry, from breeding farms, individual owners, track operators, and others connected to the industry. While they have been generous up to now, you can't always go to the same sponsors to get purse money and for those willing to continue donating, they want to know there is a reason to continue sponsoring these races.
Before you poo poo the idea, keep in mind RUS is a good way to change your horses routine and get a spark out of them. Several horses last year won traditional pari-mutuel events after competing in a RUS event. In addition, you have made an investment in your horse; wouldn't you like to know if for some reason your horse is unable to compete to sulky, you have an option to continue racing them under saddle?
Afraid if RUS takes off it will diminish racing opportunities for your horses? Highly unlikely. Even in countries where monté races are on the wagering card, typically no more than one race a day is dedicated to racing under saddle. The only problem having RUS as a wagering event is it will give the sport some new attention thanks to the new style of racing and gain the interest of women who would want to watch the almost-exclusively female corps of women riders and hopefully draw them to racing.
You may be wondering where the payoff is? When will there be wagering on RUS? It is anticipated the USTA will formally approve rules for racing under saddle within the next six months. With the rules formalized, racing commissions will be able to look at allowing wagering because there will be rules in place which they can codify for their individual states. With strong interest in Canada as well (the CPMA is considering allowing wagering on these races), I envision within the next two years enough states and provinces allowing pari-mutuel wagering that it can be profitable for horses to be racing under saddle.
So if you are an owner or trainer, make it known you would like to see RUS racing continue and consider training your horses for the different type of racing. For if this style of racing is ever going to take off, it needs sufficient horses trained for it.
The ball is in your court.