With the deadline for proposing changes to the rules of the USTA approaching (September 1), it would be a good time to suggest rule changes I think should be proposed for consideration. Any USTA member has a right to propose a rule change by completing the appropriate form and submit it to the USTA (see the link above). If anyone thinks any of these ideas have merit and you are a member of the USTA, feel free to 'steal' my idea, I will even be happy to help you format the rule change proposal. It is important to realize that state rules override the USTA rules, but having a rule change in the USTA rulebook would provide ammunition to get individual states to make changes.
Without further ado, here are the rules I would like to see:
Change the timing of races from fifths of seconds to tenth of seconds - By changing the timing of our races to tenths of seconds, we would be in line with racing jurisdictions outside of North America. This would be more accurate and help facilitate simulcasting ouf races to foreign countries by being consistent. Yes, there have been proposals to time races in hundreths of seconds which would bring more accuracy to timing, but that to would make us inconsistent with foreign racing jurisdictions. Besides, we are measuring horses crossing the finish line, not launching space shuttles. Does it really matter to gamblers if a horse went in 1:52.14 or 1:52.1? I think not.
Individually Time Horses - I do agree with those that racing should be able to time the finish times of each horse instead of going by the rule of one fifth of a second per length (or if the above is approved 2/10 of a second per length). The technology is available to do individual timing, but being the cost may be beyond the means of fairs, I would suggest such a rule be limited to extended parimutuel meets.
Implement the Fair Start Rule - Failing to implement a fair start rule is one of the most gambler unfriendly mistakes the USTA has ever committed. Nothing like chasing gamblers away when they bet on a horse that is closer to the paddock than the starting line when a race begins. The rule should mirror the Standardbred Canada rule.
Microchipping Horses - Starting with foals of 2012, horses would be microchipped instead of freeze branded. Nothing makes fans realize horsemen look at their horses as livestock than that freezebrand on the neck. If microchipping was implemented, there would be no need to freezebrand horses and all a horse identifier would need ot do is use a scanner to read the microchip to make sure the horse racing is the proper horse.
Change the Number of Starters Allowed Per Race - The rules currently limit the number of starters per race to ten starters on a half mile track, eleven starters on a five eighths mile track and fourteen horses on a mile track and allows ten horses for a non-extended meet. I would propose for races at distances of 1 1/2 miles or more, the limit of starters shuld be sixteen hores on a half mile track, eighteen horses of a five eighths mile oval and twenty starters on a mile track. This would not require tracks to have those many starters in the case of distance races were being contested but would allow them to do so if they deem it appropriate. Once you race a distance of 1 1/2 miles or further the races would be slow enough that the additional horses should not matter.
Implement the Mile Rate for Odd Distance Races - With Yonkers Raceway racing 1 1/16 mile races and other tracks periodically scheduling odd distance races, racing programs should show mile rates in addition to the actual finish time for each horse. In addition, in the section of the program where the year and lifetime summary, the horse's fastest win time at a mile should be reported along with the horse's fasted mile rate at the distance of the day's race. If a horse does not have a win at the distance or at a mile, the program will designate NWTD to represent No Win Time at Distance. This will give gamblers additional handicapping information if the horse races at an odd distane race or at the standard mile rate. It will also facilitate additional gambling from foreign venues by providing additional information.
Require Racetracks to Provide Surrender Stalls - Provided a contract can be reached with a recognized horse rescue group, each track should allocate a certain number of stalls for horses to be surrendered without any sanctions for retirement. If rescue group is allowed to work on the grounds of the track, they will be provided stalls rent free, excluding the cost of manure removal. If rescue group works at their own facility, they will have five days to remove surrendered horse from the racetrack.
Banning Kill Buyers from Racetracks - The sport is sending a wrong message when kill buyers are allowed on the backstretch after qualifiers to buy horses from owners and trainers. They shoul be excluded from the backstretch. In addition, bonafide horse rescues should be allowed access to the backstretch to rescue horses no longer wanted. A transfer to a horse rescue will result in the horse's registration to be marked 'not for racing'.
Auctions at Racetrack Minimums - Any racetrack which conducts a horse auction on their facilities must have a minimum reserve price which exceeds the price kill buyers would pay for a horse. Racetracks should not be facilitating the selling of horses for slaughter. Since auction occurs on the racetrack ground, kill buyers will not be permitted on the grounds of the auction.
I would be interested in hearing your comments and thoughts about thsese proposals. Should you like to submit a proposal similar to these and need assistance, let me know.