MJC implements restrictions on travel by jockeys

The Maryland Jockey Club said that beginning Friday, July 17, jockeys who enter another racetrack's jockeys' quarters will not be permitted to ride in Maryland unless they self-quarantine for 14 days and obtain a negative COVID-19 test.

"The health, safety and welfare of every person and every horse is always the top priority of the Maryland Jockey Club," the company said.

Jockeys outside the state of Maryland will not be allowed to work or gallop horses at Laurel Park or Pimlico Race Course. Jockeys located in Maryland who work or gallop horses outside the state will not be allowed to ride, gallop or work horses at Laurel or Pimlico unless they self-quarantine for 14 days and obtain a negative COVID-19 test.

Jockeys who have ridden outside Maryland this past week will have separate dressing rooms and quarters July 17-18 at Laurel and will be monitored, the MJC said.

150-day Layoff Reports can be submitted online

The Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association website now offers a portal for online submission of the Layoff Report in six states in the Mid-Atlantic region.

As part of the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Racehorse Fatalities, entries for horses (other than first-time starters) that have not raced for 150 days or more will not be accepted unless the trainer has completed and submitted a Layoff Report form to the Equine Medical Director of Chief Veterinarian at each racetrack. Forms must be submitted at least 30 days prior to entry—unless waived by the EMD or Chief Veterinarian—and are valid for 60 days.

Layoff Report forms are available at stable gates, racing offices and horsemen's offices as well as available for printing at THAracing.com. Written forms should be submitted in a sealed envelope to the racing office or to the email address for the appropriate jurisdiction. PDF documents, contact information and the aforementioned online submission portal can be found here under the Horsemen's Resources menu.

Please note that if the horse in question is to race out of town, the Layoff Report form must be submitted to officials in that jurisdiction.

Laurel track maintenance planned for July 12-14

Laurel Park will be closed for training Sunday, July 12, through Tuesday, July 14, for maintenance work on the surface.

Track Superintendent Chris Bosley said his crew plans to take a look at the base of the dirt surface near the five-eighths-mile pole, an area that has been worked on in the past.

“We’re just making sure it is still sound heading into the winter,” Bosley said. “This is the perfect time of the year for any type of base repairs if they are needed. Laurel never gets a break so it’s better to be proactive on checking spots and maintenance practices than to be reactive.”

The three-day project is planned weather permitting, the Maryland Jockey Club said. The MTHA will provide updates if necessary.

The Stronach Group Holds 2YO Races Hostage

Unless the Maryland Racing Commission directs otherwise, there will be no 2-year-old races in Maryland in 2020 in light of the refusal of The Stronach Group, owner of the Maryland Jockey Club, to card 2-year-old races unless they are lasix-free.

In March 2019, TSG announced that it would impose a ban on lasix in horses born after 2018 at its racetracks. The action stemmed from a series of catastrophic injuries at Santa Anita—though it was widely acknowledged that lasix had nothing to do with that situation and the announcement was considered a misdirection to deflect criticism of the company’s safety and welfare practices and track maintenance. Subsequently, TSG joined with a coalition of racetracks that announced they would seek to ban lasix in 2-year-olds beginning in 2020 and all stakes races beginning in 2021.

The Boards of Directors of the MTHA and Maryland Horse Breeders Association, in response to the TSG announcement, met jointly to review the TSG lasix announcement. The Boards determined to issue a joint statement in opposition, and it was released on April 24, 2019. In response, TSG President Belinda Stronach asked to meet with both groups, and a meeting was held at Laurel Park during Preakness week in 2019.

Read more ...

LaMarra To Handle MTHA Backstretch Services

Tom LaMarra, who joined the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association in September 2016 to handle communications and special projects, will add backstretch services to his duties given the June 30 retirement of longtime Benefits Director Bobby Lillis.

LaMarra, a resident of Laurel, will spend most mornings in the MTHA offices in the Laurel Park Recreation Hall and in the frontside MTHA office in the Laurel grandstand on race days, as well as make trips to Pimlico Race Course. He will work closely with MTHA Racetrack Administrator Diana Pinones and Benevolence and Counseling Director Jessica Hammond as well as the Maryland Jockey Club Security and Facilities departments.

Read more ...

Bobby Lillis Off To New Chapter

Bobby Lillis, a longtime fixture in Maryland horse racing known as the “Mayor of the Backstretch,” is retiring after a career in the industry that has spanned six decades.

For the past 21 years, Lillis, 66, has served as Benefits and Benevolence Director for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. His focus has been on those who ensure that racehorses receive proper care seven days a week, year-round. “I have always held backstretch and farm workers near and dear to my heart as I know firsthand the sacrifices that come with their jobs and environment,” Lillis said.

Lillis was 15 when he started working as a hot walker for trainer Bob Holthus and lived in a tack room at old Detroit Race Course in Livonia, Mich., in 1969. In 1972 he went to Sugar Hill Farm in Ocala, Fla., under the guidance of retired jockey Sherman Armstrong to learn how to break yearlings and become a jockey, which he did not long after.

Lillis worked at many East Coast racetracks and met his wife, Ruthanne, in 1975 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. They moved to Maryland in 1976 because the state had four tracks and year-round racing at Bowie Race Course, Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course and the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, and currently reside in Westminster in Carroll County.

Read more ...

Purse Release