Poag Passes At the Age Of 81

Joseph Poag, a fixture at Maryland racetracks in his second career as the Chief Investigator for the Maryland Racing Commission, passed away Jan. 25 after a brief illness. He was 81.

Poag was born in Virginia but was raised in Baltimore and graduated from Edmonson High School before joining the Baltimore Police Department in 1964. He retired in 1985 as a captain in the Baltimore County Police Department and then moved on to horse racing to work for the MRC for roughly 37 years until the time of his death.

When not at the racetrack, Poag enjoyed spending time with his children and grandchildren, and also was a fisherman.

MRC Executive Director Mike Hopkins, who was hired as Deputy Executive Director in 1984 just before Poag joined the MRC, said there were many aspects to Poag’s job. His duties included investigating unusual pari-mutuel payoffs; ensuring that all personnel and racing participants were properly licensed; barn area searches; random drug tests of human participants, including jockeys; reviewing immigration documents to determine if individuals could legally work on the backstretch; conducting interviews tied to hearings with the stewards; handling split samples for equine drug tests; and serving as a liaison to the MRC.

“Joe also did a lot with Preakness week as far as reviewing security protocols in the barn area and basically anything else we needed him to do,” Hopkins said. “And on occasion he would go to the harness tracks for various investigative matters.

“Joe was a great person, very personable and a very good friend. He was the perfect person to go to look for advice on how to solve various issues.”

Poag is survived by his wife of 58 years, Nancy Poag (nee Butler), as well as his children—David, Michele and Danielle. He was the proud grandfather of Candace Deanna, Dustin, Chad, Chris, Zoe, Ava, and Aaron, and great-grandfather of Trinity, Kyden, and Malia.

Visitation and a memorial services were held Feb. 2-3 at the Candle Light Funeral Home in Catonsville, Md. In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to the Baltimore County Police Assistance & Relief Fund.


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