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Diamond Harness Alliance Formed
Wednesday, May 22, 2006 - from David Siegel, CHHA Director


The California Harness Horsemen’s Association (CHHA) has “opened its doors”, so to speak, to three other western states in the spirit of cooperation and has formed an alliance that is aimed to strengthen the industry for all four participants. Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota through their respective horsemen’s associations have all agreed to participate in this creative program called the Diamond Harness Alliance (DHA).

At its core, “Alliance” horses shipping to California will be eligible for some incentives, which aim to increase the value of these equines. Such horses will be eligible for a shipping reimbursement program and those that are foals from registered sires in alliance states will qualify for all special “Cal-Sired” allowances which are currently only afforded only to horses officially registered as California-sired. Of course, these horses will not be eligible to race in California Sires Stakes races.

In addition to these benefits, the CHHA along with the Sacramento Harness Association (SHA) plan to offer four divisions of late closers this fall (filly pace, filly trot, colt pace and colt trot) with final purses estimated at $25,000, for three-year old alliance horses.

CHHA President Ben Kenney commented, “The pari-mutuel and fair racing in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin comes to a grinding halt in the late fall. Here in California, now with year-round racing, we face the challenge of giving our horses some time off, while still maintaining a solid product for our fans. Finally, with no tracks within shipping distance, our racing product is a little less varied than we would like. The alliance concept addresses all of these concerns and effectively improves the programs in all four states.”

SHA General Manager Chris Schick echoed Kenney’s sentiments. “More than ever, with the eastern racing programs being subsidized more and more with slot revenues, we have to find creative ways to attract more horses to the Golden State. We have an attractive purse program already in place. That, coupled with the shipping reimbursement program and the DHA late closers we are planning this fall, and a soon-to-be-announced new horse incentive program, I think we can be an attractive late fall and winter alternative for these horses and some horsemen.”

The topic will be discussed at the upcoming CHHA meeting on Saturday, May 27th, to be held at Cal-Expo at 12:30pm.