Statement from MTHA President Tim Keefe on resumption of live racing

Dear Horsemen:

I appreciate everyone's patience and understanding during this incredibly difficult period. In these challenging times, Maryland horsemen's fortitude and resilience have been remarkable, and never have I been more proud to be a Maryland horseman than now.

The MTHA, the Maryland Jockey Club and The Stronach Group, in conjunction with each group's army of lobbyists, lawyers and friends, have urged the Hogan Administration to recognize the importance of reopening Maryland live racing, the ongoing threat to our financial survival, that we fit the standards for Phase 1 of his recovery plan and that our industry is at a tipping point as our surrounding states reopen to live racing.

The Maryland Racing Commission has been incredibly supportive and has advocated for the resumption of live racing.

We have made clear to the Administration, time and again, the significant and successful steps our entire community has implemented during these last two months, as 1,300 horses have trained at Laurel Park. These steps, with a few additional measures, should allow us to join other racing jurisdictions across the United States to ensure a safe return to live racing in Maryland and to allow our industry to start to get back on its feet again.

We have also stressed the current limitations of our purse account if we cannot reopen soon. Without the ability to replenish itself and generate additional revenue from live racing, it may be unrealistic for the Purse Account to fund the Preakness and its expensive supporting race card that benefits out-of-state horsemen to the exclusion of a struggling Maryland racing community.

Unfortunately, there is still a lack of clarity from the Administration and no definitive authorization for the resumption of live racing. Because of the time and preparation needed for us to reopen, the likelihood of the resumption of live racing Memorial Day weekend is now deemed implausible.

We are tireless in our efforts to get reopened and are now focused on the possibility of racing beginning on May 29 at the earliest. Horsemen are advised to make the necessary preparations for this possibility. We cannot assure you, however, that this will be the case since we cannot reopen until permitted to do so. This is beyond our collective control.

We will keep the Maryland Thoroughbred racing community updated as the situation evolves.

It's official: Preakness at Pimlico set for Oct. 3

The 2020 Preakness Stakes will be run Oct. 3 at Pimlico Race Course, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and 1/ST (The Stronach Group) President Belinda Stronach announced May 16 on NBC.

The announcement was made during NBC Sports' nationally televised broadcast, "The Middle Jewel: American Pharoah's Run to the Triple Crown." The Preakness Stakes, which would have been run May 16 but was postponedd due to coronavirus (COVID-19), will not include InfieldFest this year.

Plans for Black Eyed Susan Day, traditionally held the day before the Preakness, will be announced later.

"Under normal circumstances, I would have stood today at Pimlico Race Course with Ms. Stronach to present the Woodlawn Vase to the winner of the 145th Preakness Stakes," Hogan said. "But, as we all know, these are not ordinary circumstances. I am delighted that we were successful in working with 1/ST, the Maryland Jockey Club and all who are connected to Maryland's Thoroughbred racing industry to set the new date of Oct. 3."

The Preakness this year will follow the Kentucky Derby, which is scheduled for Sept. 5. A date for the Belmont Stakes has not been released.

"We all wish we could have been together today to celebrate the Preakness but we stayed home and stayed safe and now we can look forward to Preakness 145 on Oct. 3," Stronach said. "I would like to thank Gov. Hogan and all of the state and local leaders along with our industry stakeholders, racetrack communities and partners, including our broadcast partner NBC Sports, for the ongoing support and commitment to racing in Maryland."

More details on Preakness 145 and the 96th Black Eyed Susan Stakes will be released in the coming months.

Statement regarding the resumption of live racing

On May 13, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that Maryland is entering Phase 1 of the Roadmap to Recovery plan, which allows local jurisdictions to determine which businesses can begin to reopen and the conditions under which they can operate.

As previously advised, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and Maryland Jockey Club have provided detailed and extensive protocols to Governor Hogan and Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman should we be permitted to reopen. They are an extension of what we are currently and safely doing during training day-in and day-out.

We believe our protocols, evidenced by our safe track record for the past two months, are sufficient, meet current public health and safety requirements and should enable us to reopen, albeit without spectators.

As a result, we are hopeful that we can resume live racing effective May 22 and have tentative plans to that effect. In light of this, the MTHA encourages horsemen to begin preparing now should this become a reality. However, horsemen should understand and appreciate that we are a government sanctioned and regulated business and the decision to reopen, and the conditions under which we can do so, rests with state and local officials.

Be assured that the MTHA and its leadership team, together with MJC and The Stronach Group, are leaving no stone unturned in getting us back to live racing as soon as possible. We acknowledge and appreciate the difficulties everyone is currently experiencing. We are committed to getting racing reopened but must be mindful that in this unprecedented international crisis, the public's health, safety and welfare, in addition to our horse's, is paramount.

We are hopeful that we will have positive news shortly.

Generosity at a time of need big help for backstretch community

The economic impact of COVID-19 on the racing industry brought forth the generosity of others in the form of a Pimlico Race Course "food pantry" that became more than a one-time event as intended and four different backstretch-wide meals at Pimlico and Laurel Park provided by a Thoroughbred owner based in Maryland.

Jessica Hammond of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and her husband, Scott, who manages the Maryland State Fair off-track betting operation and also serves as a clocker at Pimlico for the Maryland Jockey Club, saw a need in the backstretch community during the live racing shutdown that led some to be unemployed. They lease Somerset Farm in Harford County and found others willing to help out via their small lay-up operation.

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Virtual signups for Backstretch Pension Plan now available

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association on May 12 held an informational webinar to explain virtual signups for the Maryland Backstretch Pension Plan, which are now available.

Given physical distancing requirements issued by state government because of coronavirus (COVID-19), the customary in-person signups at Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course and the Fair Hill Training Center cannot be scheduled before the July 1 deadline for submittal of pension documents.

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Medical records required for horses claimed, sold or transferred

The Maryland Racing Commission earlier amended regulations that now require the medical record of any horse that is claimed, sold or transferred be provided to the new owner with seven days of the claim, sale or transfer.

In order to comply with the regulation, a “Horse Health Record” form must be completed and submitted to MRC Equine Welfare and Medical Director Dr. Libby Daniel and Lasix Clerk Melanie Martin. The form asks for information such as immunization dates, joint therapy and radiographs.

The form is available at this link to the MRC website.

Purse Release