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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Introducing the United States Standardbred Association

I assume many of you have seen the article about how standardbreds were involved in the Whitney Houston funeral providing security. These horses came from the Standardbred Retirement Foundation and are now part of the Newark, NJ Police Department. Great story to promote the versatility of standardbreds and show how they can be used when they come of the racetrack. My problem with the article is in its placement. We all know how versatile the standardbred is but what is the value of putting it on the USTA's website and other racing-related sites. The story needed to be put on non-racing sites.  People interested in the standardbred as a pleasure horse are not looking at racing sites.  As a result we are not effectively promoting standardbreds for its versatility.

To accomplish this, I would suggest a restructuring of the USTA on the corporate level. If you look at the AQHA, they basically have two sites within one; a site to promote the quarter horse and one to promote racing. One of the missions of the USTA is to promote the standardbred and if we are trying to truly promote the versatility of the standardbred, I would suggest the USTA be renamed to the United States Standardbred Association (USSA), this way it would be clear to the world that the USSA is trying to promote the standardbred as a truly versatile breed of which racing is only a small part of the horse's attractiveness. This way, by promoting the breed under the USSA banner, a market can be developed not only for retired racehorses but for those yearlings or horses who clearly are not racing material. This may help breeders develop another market for their yearlings as well as help with developing a market for the off the track standardbred which doesn't involve slaughter.

Thus, to promoting the versatility standardbreds as both non-racing horses as well as racing horses, I would set up two branches under USSA Inc; the previously mentioned USSA which would be charged with promoting the standardbred breed and maintaining the stud book and registration, and USSA Racing which would provide the functions required for racing.

If we truly want to get away from the notion standardbreds are only good for racing, then there needs to be an organizational change to match it. That time has come.

I am sure the threatened cuts in several racing states/provinces have woken almost everyone up regarding the sanctity of slots entitlements. But for those who still think racing is entitled to slot subsidies because that was the deal when the slot machines were first installed, I give you this article from The Hamilton Spectator.

People can protest the cuts all they want, but the reality is they are going to happen. It is a question of governments spending other people's money like a drunken sailor for years and having to pay for its largess and having to pay the piper. As New Jersey horsemen were lulled into complacency with Atlantic City's subsidies, horsemen where racinos were established were similarly lulled into complacency. No blame game in this post. But the question is now that racing has been awakened, will it spend all its time fighting to maintain what slot revenue it can or will racing use some of that time to innovate?

That is the million dollar question.

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