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Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Proposed 2016 Rule Changes

The rule changes to be considered by the USTA at their 2016 Annual Meeting have been announced and there are some interesting proposals.  As my tradition, here is my take on the proposed rules.

1. A Proposal to define who is an outstanding horse for purposes of determining which race horses may not be reused.  The proposal defines an outstanding horse as:  A horse born before 2000 - A mark of 2:00 or earned $100,000.  A horse born after 2000 - A mark of 1:55 or earned $250,000.  A broodmare and/or stallion which produces such a horse (either standard) would be considered outstanding and thus their name would not be permitted to be reused.

Recommendation - Adopt with changes.  There is no doubt who may be considered outstanding needs to be defined but the proposal for current horses is overly generous thank to the speed or races and slot-infused purses.  Under the current proposal, cheap claimers could be considered if they race long enough.    If I were to have recommended the proposal, a standard of 1:50 for pacers and 1:52 for trotters would be used for current horses with the monetary condition being defined as $500,000.

2.  A proposal to require fair tracks which chart races to report the same information that extended pari-mutuel tracks report.

Recommendation - Approve.  If a fair can chart races there is no reason they can't provide the same information a regular track can.  After all, licensed charters are all trained the same.  The only question would be if the fair is able to provide fractional times.  

3.  A proposal to require tracks to record if a recall preceded the start of a race and report it in a program.

Recommendation - Approve.   Personally I don't see the value of reporting it  but I imagine some horses get 'hot' after a recall so if it is felt this information will benefit the gambler, why not?  As long as we are not drowning horse players with information the more we can provide should be encouraged.

4.  A proposal to ban two year olds from racing two days in a row.

Recommendation - Approve.  Is there any need for further commentary on this proposal?

5.  A proposal to require electronic eligibility to record the percentage of ownership of each owner when there is more than one owner of a horse.

Recommendation - Approve.  If this is going to make it quicker for partners of race horses to get their purse check why not?

6.  A proposal to require post position draws and draws for a successful claimant when multiple claims are entered to be broadcast on the Internet.

Recommendation - Reject.  Yes, with owners often living in different states I can see why someone would want to have this proposal in place.  However, horsemen have representatives appointed at each track.  A horsemen representative should be sufficient.  If an out of state owner is questioning the integrity of such draws, they should be contacting the trainer to have someone supervising draws.

7.  A proposal to change the requirement for qualifying from 30 days to 120 days.

Recommendation - Adopt with Change.  Well, the fact I agree the rule needs to be changed probably keeps me from being called a 'slow adult' but 120 days is far too long. For the record, many tracks use a 45 day rule.  These days being more like thoroughbreds, the need to qualify after 30 days is certainly excessive, but 4 months?  I think not.  I can see the rule being modified to 90 days unless it being the start of the year.  In the case of the first start of the year, I can see a need to show a race line if it has been more than 60 days since a horse has shown a clean line.  

Yes, it costs money to qualify, but a horse owner and trainer can avoid such fees by racing their horses.  Asking a horse to show a clean line within 90/60 days is not asking too much.  Want to avoid the expense?  Get your horse into a race.  

8.  A proposal to require a horse which started on the outside in their last race draw for an inside post and those who started on the outside in their last race drawing for the inside in the next race.

Recommendation - Reject.   I understand the frustration of drawing the outside in multiple races and such a proposal may help retain owners but it is too simple.  I am not saying there isn't a need to change how post positions should be done, but this is not the proposal.

9.  Require the use of a slanted starting gate on 1/2 mile tracks. 

Recommendation - Approve.  

10.  A change to include removing feet from 'any foot support' as an exemption from a rule violation.

Recommendation -  Approve.  All this proposal does is reflect the fact some sulkies use foot supports instead of traditional stir ups.  It should be approved only for consistency sake.

11.  A proposal to allow for shouting during a race as well as removing feet from stir ups or foot supports during a race.

Recommendation - Reject.  While I concur shouting should be allowed as it can be use to warn drivers of impending problems, I have a problem with allowing fee to hand from the sulky during a race (excluding pulling ear plugs).  With drivers typically owning their own sulkies, a driver should be able to have the foot rests adjusted so it would be comfortable.  Loose feet led to potential problems.  Let's keep problems from happening in the first place.

12.  A proposal to allow for shouting during a race.

Recommendation - Approve.  This proposal will is similar to proposal #11 except it doesn't allow for feet being removed from the sulky.  Being my objection is to the permisability of removing feet from the sulky, this proposal is acceptable.

13.  A proposal to eliminate the automatic scratching of a horse for being late to lasix barn.  Instead a horse will be considered a possible scratch depending on when the actual race goes off.  

Recommendation - Reject.  This proposal would not require a horse to be an automatic scratch for being late to the lasix barn.  Currently, lasix must be given 4 hours before a race.  As currently written, a horse ten minutes late would be scratched.  However, if the race scheduled to participate is delayed due to an inquiry, the horse may not be late by off-time.  The proposal asks a horse be scratched only if the horse is late when the final post time is posted.  If not for multi-leg races, I would have no problem with this proposal but when you have people playing multi-leg races, they have a right to know a horse which was late to the lasix barn will be scratched so they don't base their wagers on a horse which may or may not be scratched.

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