Hugh McMahon, a native of Doncaster, England, is a former jockey-turned-trainer who has been a force in the Mid-Atlantic region, particularly in the claiming ranks, which he said gives him an important perspective. He was elected to his first term in 2017.
McMahon, who lives in Crownsville, has 40 horses at Laurel Park and another 10 at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course. He began as an assistant to Scott Lake when then trainer had a large operation with multiple bases in the region.
McMahon won more than 100 races in three consecutive years – 2012 to 2014 – and overall has collected more than 770 victories for total earnings of more than $17.1 million. He has won training titles at Laurel, the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, and Colonial Downs in Virginia.
McMahon said he plans to bring a new perspective to the MTHA board and focus on maximizing the Maryland Thoroughbred racing population by changing not only the condition book but the mindset of filling races.
“The biggest thing for me is the condition book and whether races in the book will go,” McMahon said. “It’s important to be able to train a horse for a race, and have the race be dependable (to be run). We need to do a better job instead of just competing with neighboring states for the same entries. We need an informed condition book, not a speculative condition book.
“There are things we can do in Maryland like synchronizing with the population of horses we have, which is less than it once was.” McMahon also said claiming rules in the state – in particular those for “jail time” – need to be adjusted to allow for owners to get a return on their investment as soon as possible after they claim a horse.
“I’ve got owners who are very concerned about horses not getting to race,” he said. “This is the meat and potatoes of the game, and we need to be responsive to that.”
McMahon also said he wants to bring a broader view to the MTHA board.
“We need more people with objective reasoning, not subjective reasoning,” he said. “We need to see the general, not the particular. I’m in the trenches. I want to represent the horses, horsemen and the owners.”