Backstretch Scholarship Award Winners Announced

Walmart Scholarship grantTwo strong, determined women, Jenny Hamilton and Kara Evans, lead the list of scholarship winners who will be recognized Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Maryland Racing Media Association’s annual Crab Feast in the Carriage Room at Laurel Park.

Hamilton, winner of the $2,500 Lucy Acton Memorial Scholarship for Service, and Evans, winner of the $2,500 Eddie McMullen Memorial Scholarship, both have shown their drive and love of horses by working full time on local Maryland farms while, at the same time, taking major course loads and putting themselves through several educational programs.

This year the MRMA, which was originally organized in 1937, is distributing a total of $20,000 to 12 applicants. All of the winners either work at Maryland racetracks or are employed on thoroughbred farms in the state. This year, the memorial awards prizes were kept the same, but in the other three levels they were all increased by about $250. This year’s awards bring the total amount of money distributed over the past 15 years to nearly $400,000.


All award recipients will be formally honored and receive their awards during the annual Crab Feast.

The 2015 winners are:

Hamilton, the Acton award winner, has worked as a “gallop girl” for a who’s who of Maryland trainers over the past 20 years. While working for the likes of Graham Motion, Hamilton Smith, Scott Lake and Linda Albert she has earned a teaching degree. Then, while working full time as a science teacher, and running the barn of her late friend and trainer Flee Stisted, she took night classes to complete prerequisite veterinary medicine classes.

Now, at age 48, she has been accepted into the Maryland Virginia Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. This fall she is maintaining a 3.5 grade point average and said after she completes school she plans “to work on the racetrack and with local farms, specializing in lameness and orthopedics.”

“You can appreciate that after a career as a gallop girl, I had very little in the bank,” she said on her application. “I’m sure you can appreciate the daunting task ahead of me . . . In addition to the difficult academics, paying for school will also be a challenge. Due to the academic course load, I will not be able to work while in school, and finances will be tight.”

Asked about being awarded the Acton award, Hamilton couldn’t keep the smile from her voice.

“I am fantastically thrilled to be given this award,” she said. “I am unbelievably pleased. It means so many things to me – that the race track community respects me and that people realize how difficult vet school is. And it means financial help in a program that is very expensive. It makes me very happy!”

Evans, winner of the McMullen award, has been employed by Mary Eppler for three years, feeding horses, cleaning their stalls and walking and grooming them. She also has been working part time for the Maryland Jockey Club since November 2014.

“Being selected for this scholarship means the world to me,” Evans said. “I can now afford college and finish my schooling without taking out a loan. I feel like all my hard work is finally starting to pay off.”

Since graduating from Westminster High School in 2011 she has earned an associate’s degree in business administration at Carroll Community College, and has been putting herself through the University of Maryland University College, working toward a degree in marketing with a minor in accounting. She is maintaining a 3.0 grade point average and is within two semesters, 24 credits, of completing her degree.

Kristin Bungori, a nursing student at Harford Community College, and Rebecca McIntyre, an equine Instruction and training student at Delaware Valley University, each will receive $2,000 awards.

Keriesha Brown and Teneisha Brown are twins and majoring in criminal justice at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore; Elizabeth Daney, an agricultural science major at Virginia Tech; and Kayla Walters, an early education major at Harford Community College, will receive $1,500 each.

Sara Gordon, a multimedia, journalism and animal science major at Virginia Tech; Gustavo Sanchez, a business management major at Community College of Baltimore County; Esteban Uribe-Rojas, studying to be a registered nurse at Anne Arundel Community College; and Megan Calibey, a biology major at the University of Phoenix, will receive $1,000 each.

The MRMA is a recognized 501 © (3) charitable organization and is responsible for the Maryland Thoroughbred Scholarship Fund.

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association was integral in the formation of the MTS Fund and continues to proudly support this program.

Also being honored by the MRMA at the crab feast are longtime owner/breeder Richard Golden - with acknowledgment of pensioned sire Not For Love - who will receive the Humphrey S. Finney Award, the most prestigious honor distributed by the organization each year; Hall of Fame trainer King Leatherbury and Hall of Fame sprinter Xtra Heat each will receive the Dale Austin News Maker Award as co-winners; and Bruce Quade, Maryland Racing Commission member and past chairman, will be honored with the Nancy Albert Achievement Award for helping the racing industry.

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