More About RUS
Did you know racing under saddle goes back to the 17th century when the first standardbred races were conducted under saddle? By the time the 18th century rolled around, standardbred races were conducted with high-wheel carriages, the forerunner of the modern sulky, Other than the occasional exhibition race, standardbreds racing under saddle all but ceased to exist in North America.
Then in the late 1990's there was a brief interest in bringing monté racing back when the USTA offered the Boots and Saddle series for both trotters and pacers. This culminated in world champion trotter Moni Maker, ridden by thoroughbred jockey Julie Krone, participating in a time-trial at The Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky, covering the mile in a world-record time of 1:54 1/5 as the daughter of Speedy Crown ended her racing career on a high note. Unfortunately, racing under saddle disappeared from the North American racing scene for roughly a decade. Since then, when RUS returned to the North American scene in the 2010's, it was limited to trotters but this has changed since the USTA has authorized RUS for pacers starting with the 2019 racing season.
Racing under saddle, called Monté racing in Europe, is a popular edition to harness racing throughout the continent. Among the European countries having monté races are Germany, Finland, France, Norway, and Sweden.
Newer players in the RUS scene are Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. In Canada, racing under saddle returned roughly the same time it did in the United States but our neighbors to the North introduced pari-mutuel wagering in 2014. Currently, a circuit in the province of Ontario conducts a circuit of races under saddle. While a fledgling movement in Ontario, it is being received well by the punters (horseplayers) with some tracks now seeking to have two races on the card when the monté races come to their tracks.
While there are many important stakes races in Europe, perhaps the most important monté race is the 700,000€ Prix de Cornulier which is raced at the Hippodrome De Paris-Vincennes, in France. While the Prix de Cornulier is competed at a distance of approximately 1 5/8 miles (2,700 meters), American races tend to be contested at the standard mile distance.
While trotters compete in monté events over turf and dirt ovals elsewhere, racing under saddle, in North America are contested over the same track as traditional harness races are contested over. The rules for the conduct of racing under saddle events is regulated by the United States Trotting Association and the regulation of state racing commissions.
With the efforts of organizations such as RUS America, RUS MidAtlantic, and RUS New York, the time will come when wagering will be available to under saddle events in the United States.
Note: Another resource for information about racing under saddle is Monté America (independent site).