Maryland Racing Commission approves new riding crop policy

The Maryland Racing Commission June 25 unanimously approved a new riding crop policy widely accepted by other jurisdictions in the Mid-Atlantic region after months of discussion.

The policy, developed through compromise and input from various stakeholders, allows for six strikes of the whip—no more than two consecutive strikes—from the quarter pole to the finish. Jockeys will be able to use the crop in underhand fashion from the start of a race to the quarter pole.

MRC Executive Director Mike Hopkins said the MRC will direct the stewards to implement the policy Aug. 1 at Laurel Park. The current Maryland policy, devised by the stewards and implemented in January 2020, allows for 10 strikes, no more than three in a row.

“We have consensus from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia to adopt the new policy going forward,” Hopkins said. “The intention is not to eliminate use of the whip but bring it under control.”

A penalty system endorsed by Mid-Atlantic stakeholders will be brought before the MRC in the future.

Access for owners, other licensees loosened at Laurel Park

With the further loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in most Maryland counties and cities at 5 p.m. June 19, the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association have announced a few policy changes at Laurel Park.

Effective Saturday, June 20, licensed owners will be allowed to access the Laurel barn area, and all Maryland Racing Commission licensees will be granted access to the track apron on live racing days. For the past two weeks, only owners with horses entered to race were permitted to attend.

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MRC issues advisories for horsemen

The Maryland Racing Commission has re-issued advisories on use of thyroid supplements and substances containing CBD, and also a reminder regarding horses on the vet’s list.

Thyroid supplementation is prohibited, and trainers may not have thyroid supplements in their premises on the racetrack or training centers, nor may they administer such supplements, unless the following conditions are met:

  • The horse has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism pursuant to a thyroid releasing hormone stimulation test (TRH). A T3 or T4 test without stimulation of the thyroid is insufficient to diagnose hypothyroidism.
  • The results of the TRH stimulation test must be submitted to Dr. Libby Daniel, the MRC Equine Medical Director.
  • If approved by the Equine Medical Director, the horse may be treated with only Federal Drug Administration-approved medications for hypothyroidism prescribed by a veterinarian. Possession of any thyroid supplements that are not pursuant to a veterinary prescription under this directive is prohibited and will result in strict disciplinary action.
  • If a horse is currently being administered a thyroid supplement, administration of the supplement should be discontinued and a TRH test conducted after a 30-day washout period.

Cannabidiol (CBD), a constituent of cannabis, is not permitted for use in horses. It is available in many over-the-counter nutritional supplements and in one FDA-approved prescription drug use to control childhood epilepsy.

The Racing Medication and Testing Consortium in an advisory noted there is risk of contamination in CBD products given the lack of regulatory oversight for extraction of CBD from the cannabis plant. There is no withdrawal guidance for the substance, which can and has produced positive test findings from racehorse samples.

CBD is categorized by the Association of Racing Commissioners International as a Class 2 substance in the Penalty B category. However, should a CBD product contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol—commonly known as THC—it is a Class 1 substance in the Penalty A category on the ARCI list.

Regarding the vet’s list, horsemen are reminded that when they obtain a racehorse from another party, it is their responsibility to check with the Racing Office and/or regulatory veterinarians to ensure the horse is not on the vet’s list or any other list that would make the horse ineligible to run.

MJC, MTHA announce policy changes at Laurel Park

The Maryland Jockey Club is making a few policy changes at Laurel Park regarding access to facilities in response to Maryland Governor Hogan's authorization to enter into Phase 2 of his administration's Roadmap to Recovery plan. 

Effective Saturday, June 6, a limited number of owners will be permitted to watch races from the track apron. They will be required to follow the COVID-19 mitigation protocols already in place at Laurel such as adhering to social distancing of at least six feet and wearing face coverings.

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June 2020 Newsletter Available

newsletter2020 6The June 2020 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 licensed owners and trainers in the state of Maryland.


Important information on Lasix treatment times

The Maryland Jockey Club has advised horsemen to allow extra time when they ship to Laurel Park for racing. Because of COVID-19 protocols in place at the stable gate, horsemen should arrive early to ensure horses are treated with Lasix within the guidelines.

If you have any questions, contact Melanie, the Lasix Coordinator, at 443-631-4891. The following treatment times for the summer meet, which has first post of 12:40 p.m., are approximate and may vary slightly each day, per the MJC.

Lasix treatment times for summer meet by race and treatment time:

Race 1: 7:40-8:40 a.m.

Race 2: 8:10-9:10 a.m.

Race 3: 8:40-9:40 a.m.

Race 4: 9:10-10:10 a.m.

Race 5: 9:40-10:40 a.m.

Race 6: 10:10-11:10 a.m.

Race 7: 10:40-11:40 a.m.

Race 8: 11:10 a.m.-12:10 p.m.

Race 9: 11:40 a.m.-12:40 p.m.

Race 10: 12:10-1:10 p.m.

Purse Release