The September 2015 edition of the Horsemen's Newsletter is now online and available for download. To view this edition click here
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.
It’s out with the old and in with the new in the Laurel Park clubhouse, as the Stronach Group continues its plans for capital improvements at the track first built in 1911.
Underway is the remodeling of the Wilwyn Theater, which is also getting a new name – Silks. It’s part of the Stronach Group’s plan for continuing to brand its business. Silks will correspond with Silks at Gulfstream Park, but Maryland Jockey Club president and general manager Sal Sinatra said,
“I believe ours will be better.” And when you hear Sinatra describe what’s coming, you might agree with him. New carpet and a new color scheme, he said. But he’s just warming up. There also will be 90 new flat-screen televisions. Nice, but he’s not done.
“The center wall will have a state-of-the-art, high-definition, 17 ½-foot diagonal picture,” he said. “It’s a $70,000 TV. The horses look like they’re going to run over you!”
There will be better carrels, work desks, with granite tops and their own individual lighting. Each desk will have a plug for an iPad or computer – and a headphone system also is being installed.
“Right now we have 20 TVs on the wall with telecasts from various tracks, but you only hear Laurel,” Sinatra said. “We are developing an app where I can program 16 channels. You plug your headphones in and you can hear whatever track you want. No one else has that.
“We’re trying to get the ‘WOW!’ factor. You’ll see it right there. We’re planning to have those earbuds available at guest services. You can bring your own or you can get ours free and they’re yours to keep. I’m hoping people will get them, hold on to them and bring them back each time they come.”
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When veteran stewards John Burke and Phil Grove retired this spring, Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, launched a national search for strong candidates to replace them. What he got are two experienced men – Ross Pearce and Russell Derderian – who bring maturity, integrity, congenial personalities and new perspectives to the stewards’ stand.
“We had 26 applicants and Ross’ and Russell’s credentials as stewards over a long period of time stood out,” said Maryland Racing Commission board member David Hayden, who served on the search committee. “Wherever they were they did a very good job. We’ll miss the old guys, but guess what? We hired two new very experienced old guys to replace them. We’re excited to have them on the team.”
Pearce, 59, and Derderian, 66, joined chief steward Adam Campola, 53, the first week of August.
“I am still the youngest,” said a smiling Campola, who became chief steward this spring after four years as a Maryland steward.
While the men joke about their ages, Hopkins, who made the hires, said age was never a factor in his decision.
“It was all about their experiences and abilities,” Hopkins said. “How they interact with people was very important. They have to learn to get along with each other every day. Personality is huge.”
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