450 free Thanksgiving dinners served at Laurel, Pimlico

About 450 backstretch workers and trainers, along with some members of the Maryland Jockey Club staff, were treated to a free full Thanksgiving dinner at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course on Thursday, Nov. 25.

The tradition of providing Thanksgiving dinner sponsored by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and provided by the Paz family began decades ago in Maryland. This year's meal featured turkey along with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beens and corn. The MJC, which distributes apple and pumpkin pies to patrons during the Thanksgiving Day racing program, provided free full pies of choice for those who visited the two track kitchens for meals.

The dinners were served from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The MJC each year also offers a free Christmas Day breakfast at Laurel and Pimlico in partnership with the Paz family, which operates both track kitchens.

Fidelity First initial sponsor of new groom recognition program

Fidelity First Home Mortgage, based in Annapolis, Md., is the initial sponsor for a new groom recognition program that begins Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, at Laurel Park.

The Maryland Jockey Club is partnering with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to implement a Best Turned Out Award to honor the unsung heroes of racing. For each race on every live racing day beginning Nov. 25, the groom of the best turned out horse will be awarded a $25 gift card and recognized on television and simulcast broadcasts and by track announcer Dave Rodman. On Thanksgiving Day, winners will be awarded a $100 gift card provided by sponsor Fidelity First.

Dan Eubanks, a longtime Thoroughbred owner in Maryland and President of Fidelity First, said the company was happy to help launch the new program.

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New corticosteroid regulation now in effect

The Maryland Racing Commission's equine drug-testing laboratory is now employing limit of detection—the lowest level a lab can confidently determine that a substance is in a sample—for five corticosteroids. The updated regulation took effect Nov. 1.

The five corticosteroids are dexamethasone, prednisolone, betamethasone, isoflupredone and triamcinolone. The current 14-day stand-down period for intra-articular injections
will remain in place under 2019 model rules approved by the Association of Racing Commissioners International and Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.

The MRC Equine Health, Safety and Welfare Advisory Committee discussed the proposed changes during a Sept. 8 meeting as a result of several dexamethasone positives and
reports the corticosteroid was being regularly administered by some veterinarians at 48 hours before a race at a lower dose rather than the RMTC-recommended 72-hour withdrawal time at the regular dose.

The MRC approved the regulation, which went through an emergency approval process, later in September.

MJC, MTHA implement daily program to recognize grooms

The Maryland Jockey Club is partnering with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to implement a Best Turned Out Award to honor the unsung heroes of racing, starting with the traditional Thanksgiving Day program Nov. 25 at Laurel Park.

For each race on every live racing day, the groom of the best turned out horse will be awarded a $25 gift card and recognized on television and simulcast broadcasts and by track announcer Dave Rodman. On Thanksgiving Day, winners will be awarded a $100 gift card provided by sponsor Fidelity First.

Judges will examine the presentation and appearance of both horse and groom to determine a winner.

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MRC urges use of Injury Reporting Form

Horsemen and private veterinarians are reminded that the Maryland Racing Commission has an online Injury Reporting Form that should be used to report injuries during track at all Thoroughbred tracks in the state.

"This is important in our effort to track training injuries," MRC Executive Director Mike Hopkins said. "It's also important to see if there is a pattern of a type of injury and where it occurred on the racetrack."

The form asks for basic information as well the location on the track where the injury occurred, the type of injury, whether radiographs were taken, and the veterinary diagnosis for the injury. The reporting of injuries during training was part of a Nov. 10 discussion among horsemen and Maryland Jockey Club officials in relation to keeping the track maintenance abreast of any issues.

The form is available online at this link: https://forms.gle/uZo7bp1Xa23zJYqW6

Dirt surface, turf course at Laurel focus of meeting

The Maryland Jockey Club and horsemen Nov. 10 discussed ways to improve communication and encourage constructive feedback related to questions and general information regarding the dirt track and turf course at Laurel Park.

MJC Track Superintendent Chris Bosley and Erik Dittmar, recently named MTC Turf Superintendent, provided updates during a Zoom meeting hosted by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. The MTHA has held similar meetings in the past and plans to have them regularly given the possible impact of winter weather on the reconstructed dirt track that was first used in late August.

Bosley said the cushion of the dirt track has higher silt and clay content than the old surface, which is probably contributing to quick workout times during morning training. He said the plan was to start out with “richer material” so it would have a period topack toward the base. The surface, he said, will lose some silt and clay during the winter months, so it was best to add it at the outset.

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