MTHA Express Expands to Pimlico

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association operates a free shuttle service dubbed the MTHA EXPRESS, which most recently has been available on designated days to currently licensed backstretch employees that work at Laurel Park.

The shuttle takes individuals to places such as supermarkets, local shopping centers, laundromats, medical appointments and social outings. The service is available Tuesdays and Thursdays generally in the morning and early afternoon by appointment at Laurel and will be expanded to Pimlico Race Course on Wednesdays beginning April 14.

The MTHA is currently trying to gauge interest, and further information will be available soon. The shuttle is operated by MTHA Recreation Director Dan Mangum (410-802-5798).

Policy To Not Place Restrictions On Entries Due to Marriage Endorsed

In light of a controversial rule in New York, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association voted unanimously to express to the Maryland Racing Commission that it doesn’t support any restrictions placed on entries due to marriage.

In late December, jockeys Trevor McCarthy and Katie Davis, who had been recently married, learned that under a New York State Gaming Commission regulation, if they rode in the same race their mounts would run as a coupled entry for betting purposes regardless of ownership. The rule has resulted in a petition that has been signed by thousands of people who believe it should be revoked.

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Turf Project Continues At Laurel Park

An extensive renovation project on the turf course at Laurel Park is continuing in advance of the planned return of grass racing in mid- to late April.

Track Superintendent Chris Bosley, who provided an update for horsemen March 29, said the four inside lanes of the course have been aerated multiple times. The full six-lane course will be aerated with slightly thinner tines to get down 12 inches below the surface. The Laurel turf also will be seeded; the turf course at Pimlico Race Course already has been seeded and fertilized in advance of the Preakness meet in May.

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Benefit Trust Limits Increased

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Board of Directors has increased the maximum yearly benefit for trainers and their spouses, effectively immediately.

The program, which assists with medical and dental expenses, has received $65,000 each year from the Maryland Thoroughbred Purse Account as the direction of the MTHA. The amount has not been fully utilized given the maximum benefit of $5,000 for trainers and $2,500 for spouses of trainers.

The new yearly maximums are $7,500 for trainers and $5,000 for the spouses of trainers. Eligible trainers must be currently stabled at Laurel Park or Pimlico Race Course and may be subject to a minimum requirement of 10 starts in Maryland for at least one year to the request for assistance, with a majority of the starts in Maryland during the period.

Update: Regular training schedule returns at Laurel Park

Training hours at Laurel Park will return to the regular schedule Monday, March 29, upon the recommendation of Dr. Michael Odian, Chief State Veterinarian for the Maryland Department of Agriculture.

For the past several weeks, horses in barns that had been under quarantine because of equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) have trained on the track at Laurel after regular training hours. Laurel is now considered one quarantine facility, as is Pimlico Race Course, and as of March 28 there were no positive EHV-1 cases at either facility.

Horses that are positive are housed at the former Bowie Training Center or at private farms. Each of the three barns being used at Bowie is considered a separate quarantine facility given their spacing on the property.

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Waiver Claim Reduction Supported

The Maryland Racing Commission, at the urging of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, has begun the regulatory process to reduce the waiver claim period by 60 days.

The current regulation states that a horse that has not raced for 180 days can return at a claiming price equal to or greater than its last start and not be eligible to be claimed at the option of the trainer and owner. It is a one-time waiver.

The MTHA Board of Directors in mid-March voted unanimously to propose a regulatory change to lower the period from 180 days to 120. The MRC approved it at its March 25 meeting.

The MRC also unanimously adopted a final regulation that alters part of the rule in regard to voided claims. A claim can be voided if a horse is vanned off the track after a race at the discretion of the State Veterinarian or if a horse is sent to the Detention Barn and observed to be lame by the State Veterinarian. The Maryland Jockey Club, under an emergency rule provision, had already begun the practice of sending every claimed horse to a specified barn in the stable area for observation by the State Veterinarian.

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