February 2022 Newsletter Available

newsletter2022 2The February 2022 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.

 

MJC provides update on cancellation policy, track surface

The Maryland Jockey Club has implemented a new policy regarding the process for cancellation of live racing programs due to weather and track conditions, and in a Feb. 1 report to the Maryland Racing Commission said the recomposition of the cushion of the dirt surface at Laurel Park is almost complete.

The new policy stemmed from the cancellation of live racing on Monday, Jan. 17, at post time for the first race at Laurel after jockeys told management they didn’t believe the surface was suitable. MJC Acting President Mike Rogers said the surface, impacted by overnight rain, appeared to be “responding” at 7:30 a.m., so management decided to try to race in the afternoon.

“Generally, it’s an easy decision to cancel,” Rogers said. “We want to cancel early (because of shippers and Lasix treatments) but a track can improve as the day goes on.”

Under the new policy, when there is chance of a cancellation, there is a 7:30 a.m. meeting that includes the track superintendent, general manager, several jockeys and several trainers. Rogers said representatives of the racetrack, jockey colony and training community must all agree to race for a program to go forward.

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Horsemen invited to webinar on biometric tracking technology

The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association is hosting a webinar Wednesday, Jan. 26, on the StrideSAFE technology that has been in use at New York Racing Association track since the summer of 2021.

The webinar will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

StrideSafe, which was discussed during a November 2021 meeting of participants in the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities, is a wearable biometric technology that can detect subtle high-speed gait changes before serious injury occurs. The device is placed in saddle cloths and be used during racing and training.

Among the scheduled panelists are Dr. Scott Palmer, Equine Medical Director for the New York State Racing Commission; Dr. David Lambert, Chief Executive Officer of StrideSAFE; Alan Foreman, CEO of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association; Glen Kozak, NYRA Senior Vice President of Operations and Capital Projects; and NYTHA President Joe Applebaum. During the Mid-Atlantic meeting, Palmer said the technology can identify "event triggers" that may otherwise be missed in routine veterinary exams.

Participants must register in advance at this link: StrideSAFE webinar

There will be a question-and-answer session following the presentation. An overview of StrideSAFE and how NYRA is using the technology is available here.

Casino revenue, purse contribution strong in 2021

After the second-highest revenue month in the history of casino gambling in Maryland, the amount generated for the Purse Dedication Account from video lottery terminals totaled $76.08 million in 2021, almost $10 million more than 2019 when the casinos were fully operational.

Maryland Lottery and Gaming Corp. in early January reported $172.90 million in overall gaming revenue in December, up 44.9% from December 2020, when the six casinos were operating under capacity restrictions because of COVID-19. The December number topped the $172.4 million in gaming revenue generated in May 2021 and trailed only the July 2021 figure of $180.1 million, according to the statistics.

In December 2021, the PDA earned $6.45 million, up 53.8% from $4.24 million in December 2020 and an increase of 19.7% from $5.46 million in 2019. Of the $6.45 million, 80% ($5.16 million) goes to Thoroughbred purses.

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MTHA approves Purse Bonus program, addition of days and races

In order to provide funds for owners and trainers in the wake of the recent cancellations of live racing programs, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association Board of Directors January 12 approved a 20% Purse Bonus on all overnight races through February 27 at Laurel Park.

In addition, the Maryland Jockey Club, during a meeting with the MTHA, agreed to add three Thursdays in February to the live racing calendar and said it will card at least 10 races a day in January and February when possible.

First post time has been moved to 12:10 p.m. in January to accommodate extra races.

Live racing at Laurel Park is scheduled to resume Sunday, January 16, after the cancellation of six racing programs due to a project that involves recomposition of the cushion material on the dirt track. Racing also is scheduled for Monday, January 17. Six stakes planned for Saturday, January 22, will move to Saturday, January 29.

A proposal to add live racing programs on Tuesday, January 18, and Wednesday, January 19, isn't feasible because of unavailable MRC personnel and required veterinarians. It was one of several suggestions made during an online community meeting held January 11 to provide an update on the racing surface project and solicit feedback from horsemen.

The complete racing schedule under the updated calendar is as follows: Jan. 16-17; Jan. 20-23; Jan. 27-30; Feb. 3-6; Feb. 10-13; Feb. 18-21; and Feb. 24-27 for a total of 26 days.

Limited training resumes at Laurel; surface project progressing

Limited training resumed Tuesday, Jan. 11, at Laurel Park, and during an online community meeting held by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association later in the day officials indicated they are hopeful live racing can resume Sunday, Jan. 16—weather permitting.

Mike Rogers, an executive with The Stronach Group (1/ST Racing) who serves as Acting President of the Maryland Jockey Club, said “great progress” was made Jan. 10 on the accelerated plan to add another 2,000 tons of coarse sand to the cushion on the dirt track. Previously, about 2,000 tons had been worked into the surface as part of a winterization project that was stalled by a storm that dropped eight inches of snow on the Laurel area.

“If we stay on this path, it looks like we would be in a position to take entries Thursday for Sunday, but there is also a weather system that could potentially hit us this weekend,” Rogers said. “We’re willing to do it, or we could take a conservative approach and cancel racing Sunday and Monday (Jan. 17). We want to make sure the horsemen are comfortable with that as well.”

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