Racehorse retirement: Sometimes it means a job on the backstretch

The Beyond The Wire aftercare program has become a vital component of the Maryland Thoroughbred racing industry, having retired and facilitated placement of more than 225 racehorses since its launch in June 2017.

There is, however, much more to the local aftercare effort—Maryland horsemen and breeders for many years have kept and transitioned their retirees for jobs at the racetrack or farm. One example is the Laurel Park stable of Team Gaudet, where a 13-year-old who raced for trainer Lacey Gaudet is teaching a retired 7-year-old how to pony his stablemates.

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Maryland Horse Industry Day set for Jan. 22

Hundreds of individuals will gather in Annapolis Wednesday, Jan. 22, for Maryland Horse Industry Day, an annual event that serves to showcase and advocate for the broad scope and economic impact of the equine industry in the state.

The event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:30 a.m. with registration and coffee in the Miller Senate Office Building at 11 Bladen St. With the exception of individual visits in legislative offices, all events will be held in the Miller Senate Office Building.

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MATCH Series returns with expanded schedule in 2020

The highly popular and critically acclaimed Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships Series (MATCH) has been renewed for 2020, with an expanded schedule and an increase in owner, trainer and breeder bonus money thanks to new partner racetracks, horsemen’s groups and breeder associations.

The series, which returned in 2018 after a 16-year hiatus, is set for its best season ever. This year’s slate, which grows to 35 stakes at eight tracks, is the result of a commitment by Mid-Atlantic stakeholders to not only link regional stakes, enhance competition, and grow racing’s popularity, but also work toward the larger goal of coordination in a region with the largest concentration of daily racing in the United States.

Recognizing the popularity and success of the series, Colonial Downs and Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, both of which were part of the MATCH Series during its initial run from 1997-2001, have rejoined the series, as have the Virginia and Charles Town HBPAs.

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Trainer 'Hammy' Smith collects 2,000th victory

Longtime Maryland-based trainer Hamilton "Hammy" Smith won his 2,000th race Jan. 10 at Laurel Park—appropriately with a South Carolina-bred filly owned and bred by his brother, Franklin.

Smith had two horses in to race on the Friday program in the first and second races, and Sweet Home Dixie won the second event, a starter allowance test for fillies and mares at one mile. The filly by Done Talking rallied four-wide at the head of the stretch under leading rider Trevor McCarthy and pulled away in midstretch to win.

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Urizar Velazquez: Pimlico Backstretch Employee for 2019

Urizar "Uri" Velazquez, who assists trainer Brandon McFarlane with his shedrow, has been selected the MTHA Backstretch Employee of the Year at Pimlico Race Course for 2019.

Velazquez, a 27-year-old native of Mexico, began working with Thoroughbreds for Mark Casse in Ocala, Fla., as a teenager and landed his first exercise-riding job with top consignor Eddie Woods in Ocala. He later worked as an exercise rider for Sagamore Farm and then trainer Dane Kobiskie in Maryland.

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Troy Singh: Laurel Backstretch Employee for 2019

Troy Singh, who has served as assistant trainer for the Claudio Gonzalez barn for the past four years, has been selected Backstretch Employee of the Year at Laurel Park for 2019.

Singh, a 38-year-old native of Guyana, took an interesting path to his job--he was a racehorse owner who became so interested in being around the horses that he went to work for Gonzalez, who he met at Monmouth Park when Gonzalez claimed a horse for him.

Singh owned 12 horses trained by Gonzalez at the Bowie Training Center before it closed in 2015 and then became his assistant at Laurel.

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