May 2016 Newsletter Available

newsletter2016 3The May 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.

 

Concussions- A Major Focus of Horsemen’s Health System

Agent Frankie Douglas, a former jockey, recalls he had a head injury while riding at Timonium in 1997. When he finally came back to riding, eight months later, it was with a doctor’s OK, but he adds “even then, it wasn’t a good idea.”

When Douglas, now 55, rode, there were no restrictions for concussions.

“If my head hurt or my leg hurt I had to ride,” he says. “Now, MedStar pays more attention to the riders than before. They take you off the horses until you do all the [protocols]. If you are not OK, they won’t let you ride. This is very, very good.

“Jockeys are athletes and need to be taken care of. . . Head injuries, we should take all the precautions necessary . . . It is the right thing to do.”

Last October, Maryland became the first state in the country to establish a protocol for concussions at its thoroughbred racetracks when the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club launched the Horsemen’s Health System in conjunction with MedStar Sports Medicine.

But because there had – fortunately – been no head injury incidents until mid-April, jockeys and other horsemen were caught by surprise when a jockey, after being thrown from his mount and hitting his head, was told he would not be riding until he completed the protocol.

Any jockey who sustains a head trauma or suspected head trauma and exhibits any physical, cognitive, emotional or sleep symptoms must wait at least 72 hours and be symptom free before passing through the protocol, which consists of five phases.

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Maryland Racing Firing On All Cylinders

The Maryland horseracing industry has been speeding along like a Formula One race car, firing on all cylinders.

The Maryland General Assembly passed The Maryland International and Preakness Stakes Incentive Act of 2016, allowing for the establishment of the Maryland International Thoroughbred Race – that must be run as a Grade 1 race on turf at Laurel Park.

The act also establishes a $500,000 bonus program for Maryland-bred or sired horses winning in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course and approved $100,000 for a Maryland-bred or sired horse that finishes second through fifth in the Preakness.

Days later, the Maryland Racing Commission also approved the opening of the Maryland Jockey Club’s fourth off-track betting facility at GBoone’s Events Center on Old National Pike near Boonsboro and approved the liquor license for the new OTB at the Timonium Fairgrounds Race Track.

“It’s like hitting a racing trifecta,” says Sal Sinatra, MJC president and general manager. “First of all, we’re delighted the bill passed the legislature. The International put Laurel on the racing map for years and this gives us a golden opportunity to bring it back.”

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Backstretch Pension Signup Time Is Here

It’s that time of year when backstretch workers and trainers are advised to sign up or renew their participation in the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association’s Backstretch Pension Fund.

The Backstretch Retirement Fund is one of the most important benefits provided by the MTHA to backstretch workers.

Sign-up begins April 25 at the Laurel Park track kitchen. Workers can sign up there from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day through April 29. After that, registration will continue May 2 through May 6 at the Laurel Park MTHA Office (9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and from May 9 through May 13 at the Pimlico MTHA Office (9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Anyone currently employed on the backstretch at Laurel Park and Pimlico whose job it is to take care of horses is eligible for the program. However, as in years past, employees must have worked a minimum of 1,000 hours during the past year and provide documentation to prove it in the form of a W-2 or 1099 form or a 2015 tax return.

Backstretch workers and trainers must sign up in person each year to participate in the program.

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New Shuttle Service Begins

Live on the backstretch at Laurel Park or Pimlico and want to go shopping? Need a ride to the grocery story, the doctor’s office or Social Security?

All backstretch workers have to do is sign up for the new shuttle service being provided through a partnership between Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club.

A couple months ago, a shuttle service was just a dream. But when workers suggested at one of the MTHA’s new monthly open forums that a transportation service would be much appreciated, the MTHA staff began to make plans.

In early April, the shuttle went into operation with six backstretch employees taking advantage of a trip to Walmart, a pharmacy and for lunch. Upcoming trips are planned to the Inner Harbor, Arundel Mills, a Laundromat and “anywhere else” employees want to go on the twice-a-week shuttle.

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