The 2014 Nomination Book for the Great Lakes Series (2YO) and Michigan Colt Stakes (3YO) has been released. A total of 116 two- and three-year-olds were nominated by 63 nominators. Division breakdowns are as follows:
The live harness meet at Hazel Park Raceway is scheduled to start on Saturday, April 12th and run through Saturday, May 3rd. Live race dates for the abbreviated 2014 meet are 4/12, 4/13, 4/18, 4/19, 4/21, 4/25, 4/26, 4/27, 5/2 and 5/3.
The first three weeks of qualifying races will be conducted on Thursdays (4/10, 4/17 and 4/24). The final week's qualifiers, assuming there are sufficient entries, will be held on Tuesday, April 29th. Condition sheets for the 4/12 and 4/13 race programs will be available on Monday, April 7th.
by Marilyn Breuer-Bertera, District 2 Membership Director
I have just returned from the annual meeting held March 30-31 in Columbus, and try to keep you informed about USTA topics that affect us here in Michigan. Again this year, the two full board sessions and the Marketing/Communication committee meeting were webcast and are available for viewing on the website.
There were several rule change proposals by members; three of which were approved. One clarifies that a standard record is for a one-mile distance, another is to change timing from fifths to hundredths of a second to be consistent with thoroughbred racing and updated technology, and the last approved change requires that all new leases have a two-year or less termination date. The full rule book, with search feature, is available on the website under the USTA tab; there is also an app available for mobile devices. During the past year, the Rules Committee completed a revision of the By-Laws; similar to their project last year with the Rule Book, to clarify and update language.
Another report you can access under the USTA tab is the 2013 Report of USTA Activities. This will show you what projects each department has been working on over the past year. The two major on-going projects are the social media initiative and the on-line entry system. If you view the webcast of the Marketing meeting, you will see a video overview of the on-line entry system which will be fully operational April 7, 2014, at those tracks that choose to accept entries via this method. The beta testing phase, utilizing limited tracks and trainers, has been very successful with no apparent problems. Entries may still be completed by phone or paper entry also.
The social media program continues to progress and has just launched a new website, www.harnessracingfanzone.com. Each track has an opportunity to include their own page on this website which is designed to attract new and younger fans and gamblers. Maybe you have noticed some of the tracks that are doing twitter feeds from trainers and drivers in the paddock. There are mixed feelings about this communication. It serves as another promotional tool; however, several horsemen have decided not to participate because of possible misinterpretation of their statements.
A current topic that the USTA is concentrating on, in light of the recent serious race accidents at Harrah's Chester, Freehold, and Flamboro, is crisis communication. Ellen Harvey, from Harness Racing Communications, and Dan Leary, USTA Communications Director, presented a session on mitigating unwanted attention when these types of incidents occur. A PowerPoint presentation with information for all members will be available on the website shortly.
If you go to the Fowlerville Fair fundraiser on Sunday, please introduce yourself to Jessica Schroeder who is the USTA Outreach Coordinator. Jessica will also be stopping by Hazel Park on her way back to Columbus on Monday. It is refreshing to know that USTA employees take time to address our concerns here in Michigan.
The fair promotional grant program, which many Michigan fairs have taken advantage of over the years, is being restructured somewhat this year. $10,000 of the budgeted amount will be awarded for the traditional matching grant applications, and the other $10,000 will be used to supplement fairs' purchase of USTA logo items such as t-shirts and can cozies. It is anticipated that a larger number of fairs will be served in this way; you may place your orders now.
Many of you have raced in recent years at Toledo Raceway, and probably plan on racing at the new Dayton track. I spoke with Mark Loewe, who is VP of Ohio Racing Operations for the new Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway. I thought it was great that he took the time and interest to attend the USTA meeting. I went to see the new track a couple weeks ago. The paddock structure is finished, and Mark said the paddock stalls are currently being built. The base of the track is there; and Dan Coon is restarting work there this week. The architectural structure of the grandstand is finished, with final work continuing on the interior. Hollywood Dayton is scheduled to open in October.
As always, if you have any USTA issues that we can assist you with; contact one of your Membership Directors: Steve Oldford, Mike Sweeney, or myself. Ken Marshall is our District 2A Track Director and District Chairperson.
There will be no training at Northville Downs on Friday (4/4). Horses will not be permitted on the track until it is time to warm-up for the first race. No decision has been made regarding training on Saturday (4/5) but horsemen are advised to confirm availability in advance.
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