Board Adopts Changes To Backstretch Pension Plan For Easier Accessibility

When Mary Grason, the new third party administrator of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association’s Backstretch Pension Plan learned the MTHA board wanted to make helpful changes to the Plan recently, she saw it as a confirmation of what she has found during the year since Pollard and Associates took over the Plan’s administration.

“The MTHA Board really cares about the people on the backstretch,” Grason says. “They want this plan to be meaningful to them and every change they’ve made is designed to make the Plan more accessible to its participants.”

Grason says when MTHA executive director David Richardson approached her with issues the board wanted to improve, she was delighted to be able to tell them, “We can make some minor changes that will address your concerns without changing the basic structure of the plan, which is meeting your objectives.”

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MTHA Introduces New Counseling Administrator

Jessica Hammond was looking for a new career path this spring that would allow her to return to her professional counseling roots. It was then her husband, Scott, saw an online posting.

“He was on Facebook and saw the MTHA [Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association] was looking for a counseling program administrator,” says Hammond, who recently turned 39. “He showed it to me and I thought, ‘Did they make this job for me?’ Who even knew there was such a thing that would combine horseracing and counseling? It’s perfect.”

Before becoming the new Assistance Coordinator for the Horsemen’s Counseling Program, Hammond spent 3 ½ years at Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) working in the emergency room as a social worker. She left in 2012 to manage her husband’s business, Somerset Racing, for four years and then, this past January, the whole family, including their son, Luke, moved to England to pursue another racing endeavor.

“My husband is from England, but the job didn’t work out for us and after 2 ½ months Scott and I returned home,” Hammond says. “But before we left, we got Luke, who turns 19 July 7, settled into the National Stud Diploma Course there. It was a six-month program and he graduated from that June 24. Now he’s taken a great job at Cheveley Park Stud in Newmarket [England], working the yearling prep program, getting horses ready for the sales.”

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Commission To Handle Glaucine Positives as Contaminant

Glaucine has been found in bedding for Maryland horses. But the Maryland Racing Commission is not sleeping on it.

Alarmed that the herbal extract that is widely used in Europe for bronchial dilation to help a horse breathe better but is not allowed to be used in the United States was showing up in blood tests in New York and Delaware a few months ago, the MRC took steps to assess Glaucine’s impact in Maryland.

To the MRC’s surprise, results returned from Maryland’s independent testing facility, Truesdail Laboratories, Inc., in Irvine, Calif., found a rash of positive tests, but it wasn’t exactly the Glaucine used in Europe.

Maryland’s Glaucine was coming from tulip poplar trees (pictured below).

“We adjusted our [post-race] testing to look for it,” said MRC executive director Mike Hopkins. “What we discovered was that it was coming from sawdust, the bedding being used by some trainers. Our tests showed the Glaucine, but it also showed one of three or all three alkaloids that are not present in the Glaucine that is used in Europe.”

A total of 10 positive tests surfaced the first week of May; two at Rosecroft Raceway, Maryland’s harness track, and eight at Laurel Park. The blood and urine samples all showed the alkaloids associated with the tulip poplar trees present with the Glaucine.

“All of the trainers were using the same provider,” said Hopkins. “In these cases the form of Glaucine being found was coming from the poplar trees the manufacturer was using for the shavings.”

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Horsemen Reminded To Avoid Using Products Containing Levamisole and Tetramisole

Levamisole and tetramisole are sold as wormers for farm livestock and are also sometimes marketed as “immune stimulants” or “immune modulating” substances over the internet and in tack shops. Levamisole is classified by the Association of Racing Commissioners International’s Uniform Classification Guidelines as a Class 2, Penalty Class B substance while tetramisole is not currently classified.

There is very strong evidence in the scientific literature, however, that the administration of levamisole, and potentially tetramisole, to horses results in production of aminorex and pemoline as metabolites. Aminorex and pemoline are both Penalty Class A substances, which carry a minimum one-year suspension if detected in a post-race sample. Levamisole was linked to a significant number of aminorex positive tests in 2007 and advisories were issued to horsemen to avoid levamisole administration at the time.

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June 2016 Newsletter Available

newsletter2016 3The June 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.


Horsemen's Recreation Program Expands

Dan Mangum is a busy guy who prides himself on all he does for the backstretch workers, primarily at Laurel Park.

A high school coach, he is responsible for recreational activities and special events at the track. Since March, he has been driving a nine-passenger van, taking backstretch workers – the life­blood of the tracks – to doctors’ appoint­ments and more, as the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and track management responded to the workers’ request for transportation.

But Mangum, 68, is just one man – albeit one very busy man. So the MTHA has brought in Marty Leonard to shoulder some of the load.

Jockey agent for Sheldon Russell and Jevian Toledo, Leonard, 33, will help manage the sports activities for the backstretch workers.

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Purse Release