March 2016 Newsletter Available

newsletter2016 3The March 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.

 

In Memory- Gretchen Mobberley

Gretchen Mobberley, a longtime Maryland horsewoman, passed away Feb. 21 after a five-month battle with cancer. She was 84.

A celebration of her life will be held Monday, March 7, at noon at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Glenwood, Md. A reception will follow.

Mobberley was a horsewoman through-and-through, says her daughter Bird, “She was more comfortable on the back of a horse than most people are on their couch.”

Mobberley was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Manassas, Va. When she and her late husband, Jack, got married in 1952, they bought a farm in Middleburg, Va., but moved to Maryland in 1963 when they bought Summer Hill Farm in Howard County and made it their permanent residence.

Over the years, the couple developed more than 20 stakes winners before Jack Mobberley’s death in 1995. Afterward, Gretchen, an owner, breeder and trainer, and their daughter Bird, also a trainer, continued the racing operation, with stalls at Laurel Park.

“My mom was something else,” Bird says wistfully. “My mom and dad were a team and after he passed away, she continued. She loved to ride. She was still galloping her horses at the track [at age 82]. After that, she still rode and we took our last ride together Sept. 15th, the day before she went into the hospital for her operation.”

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Backstretch Community Meetings Producing Results

Donna O’Connor has worked on the backstretch at Laurel Park for 15 years and she has seen a lot of things, but when the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association started holding open forums with the backstretch community last summer and then actually followed up on things that were discussed she was almost speechless.

“I’ve lived here for a long time,” O’Connor says. “There have been years when you feel you don’t matter. I’ve had a long-standing issue with people smoking in the barns. I think it is ludicrous to be smoking in a barn and I’ve tried for years to get it addressed, but nothing ever got done.

“Then, last summer, they started holding these meetings. I went and the first time I brought it up, one of the security guards stepped up and said, ‘I’m going to take care of it.’ The next day in our barn those people [smoking] got written up. That guard was a man of his word and we don’t have a smoking problem anymore.

“I feel they really listen and even if you bring up things that can’t be or haven’t been done yet, it just feels good to get it off your chest. David [MTHA Executive Director David Richardson] said ‘Tell us what you need and we will do our best to make sure it gets addressed quickly.’ I don’t think we knew what to say. Tell you what we want? We’d never heard that before.”

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Attorney General Rules OTB Legal

P9040134The Maryland Attorney General's office gave written notice to community leaders in Timonium on Tuesday that a year-round off-track-betting room within the racetrack grandstand of the state fairgrounds would not be considered an expanded form of gambling, and thus would not require statewide approval by voters in a referendum.

The letter, written by Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Rowe, is an attempt to clarify the legality of the OTB proposed by the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC), which had been scheduled to open Feb. 1.

“In the absence of such language, there is no reason to read it in,” Rowe wrote.

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February 2016 Newsletter Available

newsletter2016 2The February 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.

 

OTB Network Set For Possible Expansion

TimoniumExposing horse racing to more and more people is a key element in the Stronach Group’s plans for building Maryland horseracing into a premier sport in the country and a strong performer within the state.

A month ago, the Maryland Jockey Club released the news that its Export Signal’s handle figures in 2015 were up nearly 20 percent over the year before. Now, it is trying to expand the number of people who have access to those signals in the state and build a bigger fan base through the re-establishment and expansion of off track betting sites, or OTBs.

“The primary reason we’re doing this,” says MJC vice president and general manager Sal Sinatra, “is to build convenience for our customers and exposure to racing throughout the state.”

The MJC dipped its toe back in the OTB waters last May when it opened its first new site at Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino leading up to Preakness week. That project has outperformed projections to this point, contributing $7 million in handle to last year’s coffers in about six months of operation.

Sinatra said in late January the popularity of the Horseshoe’s OTB continues and is now expected to produce $12 million in its first year, again beating pre-opening projections by at least $2 million. Now, OTB expansion is moving forward.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m., the Maryland Racing Commission will hold an open hearing in the Mosner Miller building at the Timonium Fairgrounds (pictured) to listen to the MJC’s proposal for an OTB at the racetrack there. The meeting is designed to inform the MRC, area residents and legislators about the OTB project and give interested parties an opportunity to ask questions and voice opinions about the proposed facility.

David Richardson, MTHA Executive Director has commented that the Timonium OTB “is projected to generate over $500,000 annually for the Thoroughbred Purse Account.”
Sinatra and Richardson, along with other industry leaders, had a meeting with several area legislators Jan. 29 to inform them of the plans.

“I think there has been some misunderstanding about what an OTB is,” Sinatra says. “There is concern [in the surrounding community] that it is going to be a casino, which it won’t be and never will be.”

Sinatra said he sees the Timonium OTB which would be located on the second floor of the grandstand, near the newly remodeled restaurant, High Tops Grandstand Grill, as a place those coming to the fairgrounds throughout the year for various other activities will be able to utilize.

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