During the final day of the USTA annual directors meeting, Daryl Kaplan from Standardbred Canada (SC) spoke to those in attendance with regards to the need for joint marketing efforts between SC and the USTA. Kaplan noted racinos, on the whole, don’t invest anything in promoting the sport. He called on horsemen to dedicate a portion of their purse money be dedicated to marketing efforts.
This is an idea which certainly has merit and should be implemented. If just 0.5% of each purse was dedicated to a national marketing account, a significant amount of money could be raised which would allow the USTA (and if a joint effort SC) to invest in promoting the sport. If the 0.5% surcharge was deducted from the purses account, would it really matter to the invitational horses racing at the Meadowlands if they were racing for $31,840 instead of $32,000? Would it matter to horsemen at a track in Michigan if they were racing for $1,791 instead of $1,800? I think not.
Of course, the argument from horsemen will be why should they give up purse money? Shouldn't the tracks pay for marketing? Perhaps, but the sad truth is most racinos will not spend money on horse racing. To the tracks, horse racing is a loss leader; the item they lose money on in order to have the slot machines. As far as they are concerned, if racing disappeared, their bottom line would do a lot better. The people with the real interest in racing's success are the horsemen. If they are not willing to invest in their own future, who will?
Of the rules changes approved, there were two changes which are worth noting. The first rule proposal requires a trotter racing with hopples be identified in the program as well as in the past performance lines. Hard to believe there are tracks not listing this information. The other rule proposal approved worth mentioning is the adoption of a ‘pleasure horse’ registration. A pleasure horse registration permits an owner, who has decided his/her horse's racing career has concluded (or never begun), to sell or give away a horse yet ensure the horse will never be used for racing purposes. A pleasure horse registration will allow the horse to be used in other disciplines (such as horse shows) which require proof of a horse’s lineage.
For more on day three of the USTA meeting, click here.