New Preference Date System Adopted

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s board of directors approved a new Preference Date System in February that is intended to streamline the procedures and make life easier for officials and horsemen when coping with overbooked race entries.

Horsemen now will get their date for both dirt and turf when they turn in their foal papers to the Maryland Jockey Club horse identifier. Once that is done, the horse will only lose his date if he runs out of town when Maryland tracks are running.

“Our new system is really a hybrid of ours and those used in Pennsylvania and Delaware, and establishes a pretty fine-tuned pecking order,” said MTHA board member Katy Voss. “It tries to be fair to everyone, but helps the home team, too.”

MJC racing secretary Georganne Hale called the system “much more efficient.” She said all the trainers who currently have their papers in the racing office will be given a date of E 51 Friday, Feb. 20.

“We assigned dates by the day of the year, not by the date of the month,” Hale said. “Anyone who comes in from out of town, who doesn’t have their papers here, will get a later date. That means all those Maryland trainers now have first preference for getting into races.”

The dates will be in place until Jan. 1, 2016, when the system will be reset – as it will be every Jan. 1. Everyone will have to have their foal papers in the office on that date and new dates will be assigned from scratch for the year.

“I’m so glad the horsemen have done this,” Hale said. “Now, once you have a date, you have a date. You don’t lose it unless you run out of town while we are running here. Before, it wasn’t very efficient. And now it’s fair to our horsemen who support us all year.”

If the horse runs it will be given an R date for the date of the race, designating it ran. If the horse is entered but didn’t get to run due to an overbooked field, the horse will keep its original date or if it had no date, will be assigned an E date.

If the horse is entered but is scratched, it will get an S date for scratched unless the race still runs with a full field. If that’s the case, the horse keeps its original date Under the old system, a scratched horse would lose its date and would have to re-enter.

In terms of getting into a race, the oldest date still has first preference. For horses with the same date, an E date has first preference, an R date has second preference and an S date has third preference.

For horses with the same date in the same category (E, R and S), Maryland-breds will have first preference and horses stabled at MJC facilities will have second preference.

“Hopefully, the objective is to be as fair as possible to the owners who are paying the bills,” Voss said. “When it’s your turn to run, you should be able to get in the race.”

The new rules are below, with changes highlighted.

  1. Preference dates can be established by one of the following: 
    a. turning foal certificates into the racing office 
    b. entering a race to run (no date only entries)

  2. Dates must be re-established annually in January. Exact date will be announced.

  3. Turf and dirt preference dates will be kept separately. If a race is switched from turf to dirt, all starters will keep the previously established turf date.

  4. Horses will receive an E date for both dirt and turf for the date the foal papers are turned in.

  5. Horses entering with no date and not getting in a race will receive an E date corresponding to the date of the race for which the entry was taken. Horses with dates established that re-enter but do not get in will keep the previously established date.

  6. Each time a horse races, its previous date will be replaced by an R date corresponding to the date of the race.

  7. Horses who scratch will receive an S date for the date of the race, unless the race runs with a full field or they were an alternate, in which case they will retain the previous date.

  8. Horses who race in another jurisdiction will lose their date except during a break in the Maryland racing schedule exceeding 15 days.

  9. The oldest date has first preference. For horses with the same date, an E date has first preference, an R date has second preference and an S date has third preference. For horses with the same date in the same category (E, R & S), Maryland-breds will have first preference and horses stabled at Maryland Jockey Club facilities will have second preference.

  10. Preference dates are good for any type of race or distance with the exception of stakes. Stakes are not considered in the preference system.

  11. Preference dates will not supersede the conditions of the race.

  12. Claims, transfers or sales have no effect on preference dates.

  13. Any horse in the entries in the body of a race other than a stake shall receive no preference.

  14. The second half of a same owner entry will not be allowed to draw into the body of a race to the exclusion of a different owner entry except in a stakes but will receive a date if it does not already have one.

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