July 2020 Newsletter Available

newsletter2020 7The July 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.


Maryland Thoroughbred Industry Scholarship Deadline Now Sept. 1

At least $20,000 or more will be distributed this year through the Maryland Thoroughbred Industry Scholarship Fund, including the Eddie McMullen and Lucy Acton Memorial scholarships.

The scholarship program is a joint venture between the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Maryland Racing Media Association, Maryland Jockey Club and various other individual donors. The program is designed to provide meaningful financial assistance to currently enrolled students who are active members of the Maryland Thoroughbred racing industry.

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Our Doctors Are In, By Appointment

Because of COVID-19 restrictions geared toward the health and safety of the backstretch community, the Horsemen’s Health System is not allowing walk-in patients in the MTHA office in the Laurel Park grandstand at this time.

Our team of MedStar Health doctors have offered to see patients on an appointment-only basis on live racing days, which currently are Fridays and Saturdays through August. Those who make appointments are asked to go to the main grandstand entrance with their Maryland Racing Commission badge so a security guard can escort them to the MTHA office.

Please call 410-902-6844 to make an appointment.

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.

Purse Release