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About the USTA

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What is the USTA and why join?

These are key questions to those who participate in the sport of harness racing and own or breed Standardbred horses, and although the mission of the association has changed over the years, the services it provides to its members remain substantial.
The U.S. Trotting Association is a not-for-profit association of Standardbred owners, breeders, drivers, trainers, and officials, organized to provide administrative, rulemaking, licensing and breed registry services to its members.

    Our mission is to:

  • License owners, trainers, drivers and officials.
  • Formulate the rules of racing.
  • Maintain and disseminate racing information and records.
  • Serve as the registry for the Standardbred breed.
  • Endeavor to ensure the integrity of harness racing.
  • Insist on the humane treatment of Standardbreds.
  • Promote the sport of harness racing and the Standardbred breed.


Founded in 1939, the U.S. Trotting Association brought order to what had been chaos: In prior years, the sport was administered by regional organizations, each with differing rules, that often failed to honor each other's suspensions.

The USTA, which since 1948 has been headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, ruled as the sport's sole regulatory body until the 1960s, before the state racing commissions took over most of those functions, but the USTA retains an important role in the sport today because of its mission and grassroots leadership.


THE USTA's role in harness racing is summarized in six areas, each of which serves the sport and its participants in ways state and local organizations cannot.

They include:

Breed Registry The USTA is the sole issuer of registration documents for Standardbred horses, which must first be registered with the USTA (by law) before being eligible to race in North America— or to subsequently be used in the Standardbred breeding industry. The USTA has agreements with all the major Standardbred breed registries in the world, which permits the import and export of registered horses.

Rules While racing at the commercial racetracks is regulated at the state level, the USTA rules have long served as models for rules passed in all the states. When the USTA modifies its rulebook the states most often amend theirs in the same fashion. The rules of USTA also hold sway at most county and state fairs, and thus directly govern some of the sport's richest and most important races.

Licensing Every driver and trainer must, in order to qualify for state licensing, first pass written and practical USTA examinations. They must then obtain sufficient skills and experience while performing before licensed officials and veteran drivers and trainers before being licensed by the USTA-and thus participate at commercial or fair tracks across the country.

Integrity The USTA lends financial and staff support to:

  • Multi-jurisdiction investigations by the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau
  • Gathering and maintaining the sport's most comprehensive database of rules violations (which serves as an invaluable tool to regulators and investigators)
  • Industry efforts for uniform drug testing and racing rules

Database The USTA maintains the racing and breeding records of more than 700,000 Standardbreds, and information regarding thousands of drivers, trainers, breeders, and owners. This database forms the backbone of the records of the sport and is an unparalleled research resource.

Promotion Whether it is educating and informing its members, working with publicists and the press, introducing youngsters to Standardbred horses, telling the story of harness racing to elected officials, or assisting in the placement of retired horses, the USTA is the unquestioned leader in the promotion of the sport and the breed.

Why join?

The question of why should I become a member of the USTA is best answered by examining the many services and products produced by the association. It provides members with products that improve their ability to compete, gives them a means of supporting industry-wide causes, and to obtain benefits which only come with USTA membership.

The benefits include:

Member Benefits Program USTA members receive substantial, unadvertised discounts on a number of products and services, such as those offered by John Deere, Sherwin-Williams, UPS, and Office Depot, Toshiba and Equine Travel Advantage.

Representation Through their elected representatives, members vote on the rules that shape the industry, and they can voice their concerns at annual business meetings around the country.

Industry support Harness racing's voice in Washington is expressed through the American Horse Council, of which the USTA is a charter—and very active—member.

Market development The recruitment of new horse owners, education of bettors, finding new vocations for retired racehorses, and supplying information to lawmakers and regulators help enhance and expand the racing and breeding industries across America.

Research Helping find cures for equine disease by making USTA research grants, and helping fund research being done on illegal medications and encouraging the formulation of uniform medication rules all contribute to the wider good.

Products USTA member fees have been used to develop many outstanding products, including:

  • Hoof Beats magazine, the sport's most widely read monthly publication
  • USTA Online, the USTA's popular Web site, drawing more than 10 million page views each month
  • PATHWAY, the sport's online performance and breeding database
  • STARS, an invaluable Web tool for breeders, stallion owners, and yearling buyers


The USTA also offers a number of programs designed to market harness racing, Standardbred horses, and participation in the sport, including:

  • USTA Outreach, which “takes the USTA to its members” by sending association representatives to major races and industry events in an effort to interact with our members and racing fans, educate and spread the word about our truly great sport.
  • Standardbred Star, an activity book designed to entertain and educate youngsters about Standardbreds.
  • USTA logo items, which permit members and fans alike to show they support the USTA and its efforts.

What is the USTA?

Be part of something special.

The U.S. Trotting Association, with its over 19,500 members, is harness racing's most important organization—dedicated to the sport, the breed, and serving its members. It is an organization its members are proud of. Contact us today for more information.