Backstretch Workers Urged to Follow Dorm Protocols

In response to Anne Arundel County Board of Health regulations, individuals who reside in the barn area at Laurel Park are being urged to follow health and safety protocols.

During an April 4 community meeting held by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, backstretch employees were told to cease cooking in dorm rooms, stop disconnecting smoke alarms and to keep their rooms clutter-free in part assist first responders in the event of emergencies.

The county doesn’t permit cooking in dorm rooms, and the Maryland Jockey Club will enforce the rule. Violation of any of the policies can result in loss of dorm privileges.

In addition, smoking in common areas—laundry rooms, track kitchen and recreation room—is prohibited.


MTHA staff noted that the MJC will be replacing smoke detectors on the backstretch as well as correcting other things that may not meet code. The MJC, meanwhile, is moving forward with plans to construct a three-level “stick barn” that will include dorms to replace the older ones on the property.

MJC Racing Secretary Chris Merz told backstretch employees the new barn will be built near the Detention Barn at Laurel. The first floor will house a new Receiving Barn, offices and a track kitchen will be located on the second floor, and 120-140 dorms will occupy the third floor.

Merz also said county health inspectors will be on the backstretch in the next few weeks to look at all dorms.

“We all need to work together to keep the backside as clean as possible,” Merz said. “If you see something, say something and we’ll get it fixed as quickly as possible.”

Erin McElwee, MJC Facilities Administrative Manager, encouraged backstretch workers to be involved in the process.

“You really mean the world to me,” she said. “We have these meetings every month and we need to hear feedback to make things better. We want to be part of the community and need to blend in more than we do.”

In a related matter, the track kitchen will remain open until at least 2 p.m. on non-racing days and will continue to operate until the final race on live racing days.  

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