Concussions- A Major Focus of Horsemen’s Health System

Agent Frankie Douglas, a former jockey, recalls he had a head injury while riding at Timonium in 1997. When he finally came back to riding, eight months later, it was with a doctor’s OK, but he adds “even then, it wasn’t a good idea.”

When Douglas, now 55, rode, there were no restrictions for concussions.

“If my head hurt or my leg hurt I had to ride,” he says. “Now, MedStar pays more attention to the riders than before. They take you off the horses until you do all the [protocols]. If you are not OK, they won’t let you ride. This is very, very good.

“Jockeys are athletes and need to be taken care of. . . Head injuries, we should take all the precautions necessary . . . It is the right thing to do.”

Last October, Maryland became the first state in the country to establish a protocol for concussions at its thoroughbred racetracks when the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club launched the Horsemen’s Health System in conjunction with MedStar Sports Medicine.

But because there had – fortunately – been no head injury incidents until mid-April, jockeys and other horsemen were caught by surprise when a jockey, after being thrown from his mount and hitting his head, was told he would not be riding until he completed the protocol.

Any jockey who sustains a head trauma or suspected head trauma and exhibits any physical, cognitive, emotional or sleep symptoms must wait at least 72 hours and be symptom free before passing through the protocol, which consists of five phases.

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Maryland Racing Firing On All Cylinders

The Maryland horseracing industry has been speeding along like a Formula One race car, firing on all cylinders.

The Maryland General Assembly passed The Maryland International and Preakness Stakes Incentive Act of 2016, allowing for the establishment of the Maryland International Thoroughbred Race – that must be run as a Grade 1 race on turf at Laurel Park.

The act also establishes a $500,000 bonus program for Maryland-bred or sired horses winning in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course and approved $100,000 for a Maryland-bred or sired horse that finishes second through fifth in the Preakness.

Days later, the Maryland Racing Commission also approved the opening of the Maryland Jockey Club’s fourth off-track betting facility at GBoone’s Events Center on Old National Pike near Boonsboro and approved the liquor license for the new OTB at the Timonium Fairgrounds Race Track.

“It’s like hitting a racing trifecta,” says Sal Sinatra, MJC president and general manager. “First of all, we’re delighted the bill passed the legislature. The International put Laurel on the racing map for years and this gives us a golden opportunity to bring it back.”

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New Shuttle Service Begins

Live on the backstretch at Laurel Park or Pimlico and want to go shopping? Need a ride to the grocery story, the doctor’s office or Social Security?

All backstretch workers have to do is sign up for the new shuttle service being provided through a partnership between Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club.

A couple months ago, a shuttle service was just a dream. But when workers suggested at one of the MTHA’s new monthly open forums that a transportation service would be much appreciated, the MTHA staff began to make plans.

In early April, the shuttle went into operation with six backstretch employees taking advantage of a trip to Walmart, a pharmacy and for lunch. Upcoming trips are planned to the Inner Harbor, Arundel Mills, a Laundromat and “anywhere else” employees want to go on the twice-a-week shuttle.

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Backstretch Mailboxes Now Available

In an effort to improve accessibility to backstretch worker’s mail, which is a constant issue at most race track’s, the MTHA has made available in the newly refurbished Laurel Park Rec Room, 200 secure mailboxes to current residents of Maryland Jockey Club tracks.

One key per dorm room will be provided free of charge to currently employed residents in dorm rooms at Laurel Park and Pimlico as well as Laurel Commons.

Mail will be delivered daily to these mailboxes which can only be accessed by keyholders. Previously, resident’s mail was held at the stable gate in a cardboard box.

Excess mailboxes will be provided to non-resident horsemen on a first come, first served basis.

Mailbox holders will be assigned a box number and can use the address of 3600 Laurel Ft. Meade Road, Box # ___, Laurel, MD 20724.

Call 410-902-6844 to sign up.

April 2016 Newsletter Available

newsletter2016 3The April 2016 edition of the Horsemen's Newsletter is now online and available for download. To view this edition click herearrow

The Horsemen's Newsletter is published monthly by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and is mailed to each licensed owner and trainer in the state of Maryland.

 

Big T OTB Deal Reached

After weeks of discussion, the Greater Timonium Community Council and Timonium Fairgrounds have come to an agreement that satisfies both sides in the tussle over the newly approved Off Track Betting facility at the site of the Maryland State Fair. And, now, the OTB is open for business.

“It’s done and I believe it is a win, win, win agreement for everyone,” Maryland Jockey Club vice president and general manager Sal Sinatra says. “Now the community doesn’t have to ever worry about casino gambling and the Fair can move forward with the OTB plus the community agreed to help the Fairgrounds with some zoning issues.”

And the MJC can move along the path it has layed out to make racing more accessible to those who enjoy the sport and more visible to prospective fans, as well.

Sinatra said he is now focused on a new OTB near Boonsboro. A hearing on that facility is set for April 12 and he hopes to open its doors April 13, if all goes as planned.

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