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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Will the USTA Election for President be a Referendum on Jeff Gural?

If it can be judged by Friday night's race at Alexandra Park, Tim Tetrick is going to give a good account of himself at the World Driving Championship (WDC) as he finished 2nd with The Fascinator who went a tough trip yet just getting nosed out at the wire.   This is Tetrick's only scheduled drive in New Zealand and he will next be racing in Australia on February 22, the start of the WDC.

Harness Racing Update has reported there will be a contested election for the Presidency of the USTA as Jason Settlemoir will be challenging the incumbent Phil Langley.  I will be talking more about this election in another post but if directors look at Settlemoir merely as a proxy for Jeff Gural, this election will become a referendum on Gural, which would be a shame (regardless of who wins) as the two candidates deserve to be judged on their respective platforms and merits.  This election should not be whether or not you like a person not running for office.

In Maryland, legislation is being debated regarding HB-180 which will re-authorize the redirection of a portion of purse account funds generated by VLTs to Ocean Downs and Rosecroft Raceway to help offset operating costs provided each track races at least 40 days a year. Currently, the authorization for the redirection of funds expires this year and the bill will extend the law through 2019.  Needless to say this legislation is very important to Rosecroft Raceway if there is any hope for an extended run of racing there.

Meanwhile, in Virginia legislation is moving forward to allow the state to fund the Virginia Equine Alliance  (VEA) which includes the Virginia Harness Horse Association,  Under this legislation, the VEA would also assume control of the nine OTW sites.  As a non-profit organization, the VEA hopes to get charities involved in participating on assigned race dates.

Of course, the question is where the horsemen would race.  While they would be willing to lease Colonial Downs,  it is unknown if the owner of the facility, Jeffrey Jacobs, would entertain leasing the track to the VEA which includes a group he had a bitter dispute with which resulted in the cancellation of the 2014 meet and the surrender of his licenses.  The thoroughbred horsemen have an alternate facility to race at if a lease can not be signed; where the harness horsemen would race is unknown.

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