MTHA Honors To Light Up Christmas Party

christmasparty2It will be a special night, Dec. 7, when the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association honors its best at the annual Awards Ceremony and Christmas Party at the Laurel Park Carriage Room.

The MTHA continues its 27-year tradition of honoring owner, trainer and backstretch workers-of-the-year and has added to the excitement with a lifetime achievement award and two special awards, one for unsung hero and the other for outstanding service to backstretch employees.

History will be made when Maryland Jockey Club owner Frank Stronach is celebrated as Owner of the Year.  He will be the first track owner to receive the award; Graham Motion is Trainer of the Year; and trainer King Leatherbury is the lifetime achievement honoree.

The Backstretch Workers of the Year awards go to men and women for their exemplary service to the industry behind the scenes. This year, Rigoberto “Rigo” Salazar is the Pimlico Race Course award winner and Eveline Kjelstrup receives the award for her work at Laurel Park.

The special unsung hero award goes to Joe Miller, who works for the MJC, driving the horse ambulance; and the Maryland Horsemen’s Assistance Fund honors Richard Meyer with an award for outstanding service to backstretch employees. Meyer, who recently retired, served for 26 years as the chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee.

Stronach has earned the owner award because of his support of Maryland racing on the track by sending 38 percent of his total entries to Maryland racetracks and for investing nearly $20 million toward track improvements at Laurel Park and Pimlico in 2015.

Stronach’s philosophy is centered on reinvesting in his businesses and his goal is to make horse racing at the tracks owned by The Stronach Group self-sustaining.

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2016 Racing Calendar Expands to 157 Days

desk calendar 2016 14Remember not so long ago when racetracks in surrounding states were expanding their schedules and increasing their purses while Maryland tracks were cutting dates and struggling to compete for horses as its purse structure stagnated?

Maryland trainer Tim Keefe does. He looks around now and sees Maryland as perhaps the only racetrack in the country that isn’t pulling back as the Maryland Jockey Club works its plan toward restoring year-round racing to the state.

“I think we are the only place in the country that’s expanding,” says Keefe, president of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “For so long, we’ve always seemed to have been fighting for more dates. Now, in 2016, we have 15 more days. That’s significant because it shows we are moving in the right direction. The Stronach Group is fully committed.”

Tim Ritvo, the Stronach Groups’ chief operating officer, said he sees forward progress continuing toward the goal.

“We plan to keep going,” he says. “We want 200 days of racing . . . We’re looking to host a Breeders’ Cup one day and bring back the D.C. International. We think it is all viable if [the business] is run properly.”

The winter meet at Laurel Park will run Jan. 1 through Feb. 15, take a three-week break and then return to run March 11 through May 8.

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MTHA Christmas Party & Toy Drive - 12/7/15

Santa-DJFor the third consecutive year the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association will host the popular Horsemen’s Christmas Party celebration on Monday evening, Dec. 7, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Laurel Park’s Carriage Room.

Dubbed Maryland Racing’s Party of the Year, the MTHA Christmas party will feature a buffet dinner, open bar and a dance floor with tunes provided by one of the area’s top party bands, The New Romanos.

Also making an appearance is the Horsemen’s Award ceremony to be held at the outset of the party. Tickets are $35 in advance, ten for $300 or $45 each at the door and can be purchased on race days in the MTHA racetrack office at Laurel Park, by calling 410-902-6842 or clicking the buy tickets button below. See Diana Pinones in the MTHA office for more details. Horsemen are urged to purchase tickets in advance.

Returning for 2015 is the Horsemen’s Toy Drive. MTHA is asking attendees to the party to bring a new, unwrapped toy to be collected at the door. Gifts will be distributed to children of backstretch workers during the holiday season.

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