Zubrod to Towers: Say what?

In Dean Towers’ recent article in HRU regarding whipping (December 16) he stated the following: “I believe the public understands the need for a whip for a buggy horse when it comes to control and safety. A whip’s benefit is completely logical, even to a layman.”

Say what? This may MAY have been logical to the average layman in the first half of the last century, but certainly not now. Even worse is that it isn’t even true. The driver flailing at his horse down the lane is not doing it for safety, he is doing it to make the horse go faster. Period. It is this type of thinking that paves the way for those that would like to ban the whip.

I have long been a proponent of using a riding style bat in place of the long buggy whip. Also requiring both hands in the handholds at all times would allow us to present a less inhumane picture to the public. The shoulder rule is both unenforceable and ineffective as the public still sees a man repeatedly beating a horse no matter how high his hand is raised. This is something that trainers, drivers and the new USTA president need to tackle immediately because once the ball starts rolling down the hill to a total ban it will be very hard to stop.

— Art Zubrod / Versailles, KY

Pennacchio for USTA president

Regarding the upcoming election of USTA president. First, I would say that there is no one I respect more than Russell Williams. His humanitarian efforts are surpassed by no single person I know of in the sport. He has saved the lives of more horses than any of us can count and for that he deserves our thanks and admiration.

However, after serving on the board of the Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association (FSBOA) under executive director Joe Pennacchio for the past several years, I believe that he is uniquely qualified to lead the USTA in the coming years. In my opinion the single biggest threat in the coming years to harness racing will be decoupling. I think it would be naive to think that the states that currently have slots agreements will not face blow back from politicians in their respective states. Pennsylvania has seen it’s purses diminished over the past few years. In time as harness racing handle doesn’t grow the effort to rescind current agreements will become a focal point.

Joe has the experience in dealing with the corrupt politicians that lie to our faces and then try to stab us in the back. He has fended off the Florida decouplers for the time being with limited resources, but with his own tireless efforts, on his own dime I might add. To me this makes him the candidate for the climate we are in. Joe also owns several horses and has been extremely active in the amateur driving program.

Harness racing has many hurdles to clear and while whipping, drugs and programs to create new clientele are important they pale in comparison to the political climate that could be around the corner. I would also applaud Ryan Macedonio for attempting to bring a young and fresh perspective to the post. I just don’t think Ryan’s time is now. It would be great if the new ideas presented by the candidates work and propel us forward in the years to come, but it is essential that we don’t lose ground from where we are now. I don’t have a vote but I would implore our directors to strongly consider Joe Pennacchio for our next USTA president.

— Jerry Glantz / Delray Beach, FL