Pension Signups Virtual In 2022

Virtual signups will again be the primary means to participate in the Maryland Backstretch Pension Plan, which this year will receive a $1-million contribution as approved by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Board of Directors.

Signups will be available beginning April 15, with a deadline of June 1. The online registration form is available at this link.

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Leatherman Credits Dr. Jason For Saving Life

For Doug Leatherman, a visit to the Maryland Horsemen’s Health System at Laurel Park on a Friday in mid-March could very well have saved his life.

Leatherman, who works as a pony person, wasn’t feeling well and stopped in to see Dr. Jason Pothast for a checkup. He had had some chest pain about five days prior and was starting to feel better but told Pothast his family has a history of heart-related issues. The recommendation was that Leatherman go to the emergency room, but he opted to contact a cardiologist. He could only get an appointment in about a week and a half and scheduled one.

A few days later after his visit with Pothast, Leatherman woke up that Monday night in serious pain. He then remembered what Pothast had told him as he was leaving the examination room.

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Beyond The Wire Retires 500th Horse

In mid-March upon the retirement of the 5-year-old gelding Bundi Bundi by trainer Pedro Nazario, Beyond The Wire reached the 500-mark in horses that have moved through the program.

Beyond The Wire, Maryland’s Thoroughbred aftercare program, is funded by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; Maryland Jockey Club and its owner, 1/ST Racing; the Maryland Horse Breeders Association; owners who participate in Maryland racing; the local jockey colony; and donations from owners and trainers. The program works hand-in-hand with various Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance-accredited farms that house equine retirees and prepare them for new owners and second careers.

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HISA On Track For July 1 Start

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s Racetrack Safety Program remains on track to begin July 1, 2022, as required by federal law. HISA was discussed during a March 31 meeting of racing stakeholders in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond.

Alan Foreman, Chairman of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, told participants much of the Racetrack Safety Program proposed by HISA already has been in place through the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance Code of Standards. He said it’s “not a heavy lift at all” for the Mid-Atlantic region.

Enforcement regulations for the Racetrack Safety Program were recently adopted by the Federal Trade Commission. The Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program under HISA has been delayed until January 2023. The THA and other groups continue to offer feedback on those proposed rules and regulations.

The HISA budget for 2022 was expected to be released in early April. The New Jersey Racing Commission already announced it will not serve as a fee collector for HISA, meaning that would fall to racetracks in the state. The Maryland Racing Commission has that issue on the agenda for its April 5 meeting.

Ed Martin, President of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, said many regulatory agencies will have to work with legislatures and other agencies to ensure funding and payment procedures are in line with state law.

Laurel Park Turf Looks To Be Ready To Roll

In advance of turf racing season at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, the Maryland Jockey Club invested in an aggressive maintenance plan that began last fall and resumed in late winter of this year. It is part of ongoing and necessary work to provide the best surfaces possible.

After turf racing ended in the fall of 2021, roughly 800 tons of sand—400 tons at Laurel and 400 at Pimlico—was spread on the courses to have it mix with the soil. Both courses were over-seeded last fall and treated with fertilizers and pesticides.

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Match Series Kicks Off At Laurel Park April 16

As has been the case since the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships Series (MATCH) returned in 2018, Maryland will again host its launch with four divisional stakes—one on Saturday, April 16, and three on Saturday, April 23—at Laurel Park.

The series is designed to identify the best horses, and their owners and trainers, in the Mid-Atlantic region. The series, which has had to adapt to the complications caused by the pandemic, will be contested this year at Laurel, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Colonial Downs and Parx. Parx will host this year’s Championship Day Monday, Oct. 3.

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