I’d like to introduce myself and thank the MTHA for the opportunity to run for the Board of Directors. I own Fidelity First Mortgage in Annapolis and have been hooked on horses and racing since I was 10 years old. I have truly enjoyed growing up in the horse industry. I have my parents Guy and Annette Eubanks to thank for my early introduction to horse racing and I strive to continue our family tradition in racing. I currently own over 20 race horses stabled throughout Mid-Atlantic tracks with the majority at Laurel Park. I have enjoyed every facet of the racing game from claiming to breeding and buying yearlings and two-year olds at sales in Kentucky, Florida and Maryland. I consider myself a representative of every individual at the track since I grew up walking hots, grooming horses, driving the horse van and doing whatever was needed to assist my family at the track. Even today with over 20 horses in training you can still find me at my mom’s barn lending a hand when needed.
I’ve been through the ups and downs of the racing industry and have seen Maryland Racing experience those same fluctuations. Right now is a great and promising time for Maryland Racing and I would very much like to be an integral part of the growth and prosperity of the racing game for every individual and every faction involved.
There are so many great things occurring in Maryland racing lately. In my opinion, however, there are still several important issues to be addressed:
Adjustments need to be made to the claiming rules. They are outdated and discourage new owners from entering our sport. The obsolete rules have sent some of our top owners to other states. Maryland needs a consistent and favorable condition book. I believe that races should appear in the condition book every 3 weeks instead of every 2 weeks. This is not feasible for consistently running a horse. If the races were run every 3 weeks, they would fill more often and it would be much more beneficial to the horses’ health and longevity.
The changes at the Laurel facility have been amazing. The upgrades to the Clubhouse and Grandstand show tremendous vision and workmanship. The new barns are also a great addition. It seems, though, that we have forgotten the most important people at the track: are there plans for housing improvements for the backstretch workers? The hot walkers, grooms and riders that take such excellent care of our horses every day need to be taken care of as well. We also need to address the neglected condition of the older barns in use – the lack of maintenance to keep them safe for our horses. I would relish the opportunity to help improve the backstretch for the workers and our horses. The involvement of the MTHA in the Thoroughbred Aftercare program "Beyond the Wire" must continue to be a focus for MTHA and all horsemen.
The thoroughbred industry needs to focus not just on today's product and the amount of money wagered but also the future of racing. The Preakness Stakes in Maryland remains strong with record numbers and over 100,000 people in attendance every year, but where are those people year-round? How can we bring them more often to the races? I see a lot being done with Fantasy Owners' Day, backstretch tours, Brew and Bourbon Classic and other special events. What happened to last year’s Twilight Posts? I feel promoted effectively as a Twilight Happy Hour, Companies including my own and other business owners would bring their offices in for Friday Happy Hours and company mixers. This would attract new fans to the sport. What can we do to attract families? Is it possible to develop a family area at the track, complete with barbecue stations, picnic tables and playground areas for children? Can we promote family days at the track – perhaps a Family Funday Sunday? I will never forget cashing my first big exacta and trifecta hit with my dad at a very young age, and him purchasing me a motorcycle with the winnings! Two life-defining events for me! How many other families and children can we attract and make life-long fans?
I would relish the opportunity to be a representative of all horseman, trainers and backstretch workers and would always be available for any questions or concerns that need to be addressed with the MTHA. I encourage all of us to take the time to vote and have our interests well-represented.
Thank you for the opportunity.