Renaissance Champions Awards Dinner Returns

The Maryland racing and breeding community in 2023 will welcome back the in-person Renaissance Champions Awards dinner after two years of virtual presentations.

The 2020 event was held live in February just before COVID-19 restrictions shut down live racing in the state. Lingering restrictions led organizers to switch to a virtual format—videos and social media—in 2021 and 2022.

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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.

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Laurel Park Backstretch Worker Of The Year: MARTIN HAIBER

Martin Haiber, who grew up in the racing industry and was licensed as jockey in 1987, is the 2022 Backstretch Worker of the Year for Laurel Park given his contributions to the Rodney Jenkins barn for the past seven years.

Haiber, soon to be 61 years old, works as a hot walker for Jenkins. But his father owned racehorses before he was born, and Haiber grew up spending time around horses. He received his first Maryland Racing Commission license in 1980 and worked with his father on a breeding farm and at Marlboro racetrack, which for a period of time also served as a training center.

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Pimlico Backstretch Worker Of The Year: RICARDO MARTINEZ

Ricardo Martinez, who has become an integral part of the Kieron Magee barn, is the 2022 Backstretch Worker of the Year for Pimlico Race Course given his dedication to the stable’s horses.

Martinez, a 38-year-old native of Mexico, came to Maryland in 2007 and worked for trainer Ferris Allen at Laurel Park for a year. He then moved to the Magee barn, and has been a groom there since that time.

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Pension Signups Are Coming In April

Virtual sign-ups for the Maryland Backstretch Pension Plan have been a success the last three years and will again be available beginning in April with a deadline of June 1, 2023.

Those employed in the care of horses on the backstretch at Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course or the Fair Hill Training Center, including trainers, are eligible to participate. However, the eligible employee must have worked a minimum of 1,000 hours during 2022 and provide documentation to that effect (with a W-2 or 1099 form, or tax return).

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HISA Medication Program Rules Remain In Limbo

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority Jan. 27 said it expects its Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program to take effect March 27 given the fact the Federal Trade Commission has published the resubmitted rules to the Federal Register. But on Jan. 31, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which in November ruled the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020 unconstitutional, rejected motions by HISA and the FTC to have the case reheard.

The FTC action began a 14-day public comment period on the AMDC Program regulations, and the FTC has 60 days to approve or deny the proposed rules. As of Feb. 2, the FTC had taken no further action in the wake of the Fifth Circuit ruling, which states: “It is ordered and adjudged that the judgment of the district court is reversed and remanded to the district court for further proceedings in accordance with the opinion of this court.”

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas had upheld the HISA law earlier in 2022.

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