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Monday, July 30, 2012

Rule Change Proposals

The USTA is requesting proposals for rule changes to be considered at USTA district meetings and at 2013's annual board meeting.  Hard to believe we are talking about 2013 already, but with the deadline for proposals being September 4, 2012, a mere month after the Hambletonian, it is time to think about it.

You may ask why don't I submit these proposals?  Well, the proposals would carry more weight if they came from an active USTA member, rather than someone who is not currently racing a horse.  I realize by not submitting these changes myself, the odds of them coming in front of the USTA for discussion are slim, but hopefully someone who fits the bill will read this and decide there is merit in some of these suggestions.

I.  Racing Under Saddle
No specific rule change here to suggest.  Just with Racing Under Saddle (RUS) getting more intention, no doubt with the possibility of making these now exhibition races a parimutuel event, it will be necessary to codify the rules monté racing in the USTA rule book.  Before each state can permit parimutuel racing on these RUS events, the racing commissions will have to adopt their own rules.  By  the USTA adopting such rules, it will provide each individual state a set of model rules to adopt, or as often is the case, tweak.  Without USTA rules, the chances of any state approving RUS for wagering is slim.  Even if for some reason RUS doesn't catch on, there is no harm in making the appropriate changes.

II.  Timing of Races
Here we go again.  Every year a proposal to individually time horses in hundredths of seconds is proposed and it gets rejected or withdrawn before being voted up.  Well, maybe it is time to make a change which would provide more accurate information yet not be too difficult to implement.

Instead of timing races in fifths of seconds, races should be timed in tenths of seconds, which will allow times to be more accurate and standardize the unit of timing to the one used outside of North America.  Instead of determining the race time of trailing horses under the standard of one length equal to 1/5th of a second, change the standard to  1/2 length being equal to 1/10th or a second. 

III.  Odd Distance Racing
As tracks attempt to sell their signal to overseas interests, it makes sense to report race times in a method they are used to but also benefit our domestic gamblers as well as yearling buyers.  At the standard mile, the changes are minimal but when you factor in odd distance racing, these races become hard to handicap as well as interpret when a horse returns to the mile distance.  Several changes are necessary.

Reporting race times and positions.  At distances of a mile or less, report fractional times as follows:

Quarter Time Half Time Three Quarters Time Winning Time
Race less than 1/4 mile

Race less than 1/2 mile

Race less than 3/4 mile

Race less than 1 mile

At the above aboce distances, the program shall show the horses position and lengths back (or ahead) at the points times are in addition to the stretch position.

At distances of more than a mile, the following fractional times shall be reported.

Leader's time at the  Leader's time at the  Leader's time at the  Winner's
1 1/8 mile or less 1/4 1/2 3/4 Final Time
1 1/2 mile or less 1/4 1/2 1 Final Time
2 miles or less 1/4  1 1 1/2 Final Time
More than 2 miles 1/2  1 1 1/2 Final Time

The charted line for each horse shall show the horse's position and lengths back (or ahead) at the above points of call in addition to the stretch call.

On each charted line, the horse's final quarter mile time will be reported unless the race is less than  a 1/4 mile long.

For races at a distance of one mile, the horse's final time will be reported as is.  For races less than or greater than a mile, the final time will be the mile rate; a time calculated based on the horse's actual final time modified to reflect the distance of the race.

Horse's lifetime mark and seasonal win time.  For purposes of past performances, the lifetime mark and seasonal win times will reflect the horse's best time at the distance of today's contest.  If the horse does not have a mark at today's distance, the mile times will be used along with a designation of (1) to indicate it is at the mile. 

Lifetime Record - In addition to the current and prior season's summary, the lifetime record (Starts, 1sts, 2nds, 3rds and earnings) at today's distance will be reported.

IV.  Stakes Races
Late Closing Events - Past performance lines will show conditions or late closing events, not names.
Invitational Races - Will show 'Inv' in the past performance line, not names.

Early Closing, Futurities - Past performance lines may show the name of these events and grading if appropriate.

Grading of Stakes. - Races restricted to state bred or foal programs may not be graded.  Early Closing and Futurity races may be graded as follows:

Grade 1 - Races where the field is determined by the horses with the highest earnings or points earned and a minimum purse of $250,000 is required.  No eliminations are allowed.  Heats permitted.

Grade 2 - Races where eliminations are contested to determine the final field or a race which meets the basic guidelines of Grade 1 with a final purse of less than $250,000 but not less than $150,000.

Grade 3 - Races which will be contested in divisions or meets the basic guidelines of Grade 1 or 2 with a purse of less than $150,000 but not less than $100,000..

Ungraded - Any other early closing or futurity race with a purse less than $100,000

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