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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The USTA Rule Change Proposals - Part 1

The USTA has published their list of rule change proposals for consideration at the district board meetings which will then be reviewed and voted on at the 2013 USTA Board of Director meeting.  As I do annually, here is my take on the proposals.  I will cover all the proposlas over two posts.

1. A proposal to clarify “Bonus Earnings” relative to Conditioned Races by adding the following language to under Rule 4, Section 6(a): “All money earned shall be credited to the horse’s winnings at the same time as advertised purse earnings and shall include any “bonus” earnings or other supplemental payments paid to the horse’s owner.”
Oppose.  While well intentioned, I think it actually does more harm than good.  In fact, if I had my druthers I would change the rule to not include bonus earnings already included.  For example, let's say you are racing in a NW2CD class where the regular purse goes for $4,000 but in your state there is a 25% bonus for a race restricted to state-sired or owned, resulting in a purse of $5,000.  While it is true a horse winning such a race earns an extra $500, it puts the horse at a disadvantage when they race against open company or at another track.  Races like this should be raced for a purse of $4,000 plus a $1,000 state-sired and owned bonus and the base purse alone should be considered in conditions. 
In addition, let's say you race at a track where all starters earn 1% of the purse just for finishing the race and the race goes for $10,000; a horse that finishes in eighth place should be credited with $100 in earnings?  Set starting fees should not be included in purse earnings as once again, it puts the horse at an unfair disadvantage.  Same thing for a horse that gets a bonus for sweeping a series of races, any such bonus is not race specific and should not be included for the same reason.
2. Add New Subsection (29) to Rule 9, to read as follows:

Race Numbering Race numbers will be sequential starting at “1” (one) and nonduplicated for each group of races with a common “race type” as defined by the USTA for any given calendar day. “Race Types” (and corresponding race codes) include the following: 1-Qualifier, 2-Time Trial, 3-Baby Race, 4-Official Workout, 5- Afternoon PM, 6- Evening PM, 7-Matinee, 8-Afternoon Fair, 9-Evening Fair.
Approve.  This is a cosmetic change which will help when programs are produced to make sure races are reported correctly.  For example, under the current system, if you raced in the first race on the first card at the Delaware County Fair on Jug Day, your race would be confused with a horse that started in the first race on the second card at the Delaware County Fair.  By agreeing to this change, it allows for programs to be clearer.
3. A proposal to amend Rule 14, Section 1 (b) to prohibit a horse to enter and race in more than one county fair on any given day.
Approve with changes  -  Let's not kid ourselves, a horse racing at one track is not going to be racing at another track the same day (I think Hot Hitter is the last horse to race twice in one day at two different tracks).  The person who suggested this rule claims people will pick and choose the race to go into based on the competition each race draws. 
Fairs as well as racetracks are struggling to fill races.  If a horse is entered in a race, the expectation that the horse is going to race should be maintained.  If the horse didn't enter the horse, the race may not have filled and not used but now if a horse scratches, there is a race on the card which never would have been used.
The change I would make is to apply this change to all racetracks, be it a county fair or an extended parimutuel race.  If a declaration is made, the owner and trainer should have to honor it, not be able to cancel to pick their spot.
4. A proposal to amend to Amend Rule 17, Section 4(d), by changing the name and requirements for “P” Provisional drivers to be in effect junior drivers and allowed to claim concessions.  It would give more opportunity for men and women to show what they are able to do, instead of them having a hard time getting drives.

Approve.  No doubt this will be a controversial proposal.  Adopting this rule will be similar to what is being done in Australia.  It is hard for individuals to get their full license because of an unwillingness to give provisional drivers drives; especially women.  By establishing in effect an apprentince driver where horses driven by them get a concession to race in one class lower than they are eligible to, owners and trainers will be more inclined to use these drivers, hopefully getting more women in the sulky, allowing racing to increase its appeal to women gamblers.  In addition, it will also allow trainers and owners to see what these people can do so the goods ones may flourish once their apprenticeship is over.  Also, being an apprentince driver, any advantage they receive for being in a lower class may be partially offset by the driver's lack of experience, keeping races competitive for wagering.

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