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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A New President is Selected

Congratulations to Russell Williams for being victorious in the USTA election for President.  In an overflow field of five candidates, Williams came out ahead in the second round of voting, defeating Joe Pennacchio who was the runner up.  Jason Settlemoir, Ryan Macedonio, and Fred Husdon were also rans in the contest.

Quite honestly, the outcome of the election didn't surprise me as Williams and Pennacchio both were establishment candidates, Williams likely having a better pedigree coming from Hanover Shoe Farms.  With Williams coming out on top and being establishment, don't expect any significant changes in the running of the organization.  At this point, I will leave it to the reader to decide if this is good or not, I will let the new President develop his own course and be judged accordingly.

The three change candidates ran up the track with Jason Settlemoir doing the best, but realistically he had a tough road to overcome being employed by Jeff Gural.  Like it or not, Gural is a lighting-rod when it comes to harness racing; you like him or not and I am sure that factored into the directors' consideration.

I am sure if the day come when Mr. Settlemoir works for a track other than the Meadowlands or Tioga and Vernon Downs, it will be a slam dunk for him to become President should he decide to pursue it.

It was no surprise the proposal to have 5% of slot revenue diverted to the USTA for marketing on a trial basis was soundly defeated.  While I feel slot revenue should be used for marketing, there was a fatal problems with the proposal, whose 5% was going to be used for marketing?  My understanding is the 5% would have come out of the horsemen's purse account.  Why are the track owners not being asked to contribute?  The proposal should have required the tracks and horsemen to both contribute 2.5% to the marketing effort.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A small correction about the vote on the survey. The USTA directors didn't vote against using slot money for marketing. They voted against taking the proposal to the full membership for a vote.

As for Russell Williams winning the election, Mr. Williams certainly knows the racing business and I believe he's an honorable man. But the position doesn't carry much power by his own admission. Additionally, he's not likely to push anything new. He thinks the "USTA is doing a great job." (Harness Racing Update)

That's not embracing his new leadership role in the effort to bring racing out of the downward spiral and attract customers. I'm not putting everything on the USTA. It can't be the only leader. Track owners, horsemens associations and states need to step up as well.