Backstretch Community Meetings Producing Results

Donna O’Connor has worked on the backstretch at Laurel Park for 15 years and she has seen a lot of things, but when the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association started holding open forums with the backstretch community last summer and then actually followed up on things that were discussed she was almost speechless.

“I’ve lived here for a long time,” O’Connor says. “There have been years when you feel you don’t matter. I’ve had a long-standing issue with people smoking in the barns. I think it is ludicrous to be smoking in a barn and I’ve tried for years to get it addressed, but nothing ever got done.

“Then, last summer, they started holding these meetings. I went and the first time I brought it up, one of the security guards stepped up and said, ‘I’m going to take care of it.’ The next day in our barn those people [smoking] got written up. That guard was a man of his word and we don’t have a smoking problem anymore.

“I feel they really listen and even if you bring up things that can’t be or haven’t been done yet, it just feels good to get it off your chest. David [MTHA Executive Director David Richardson] said ‘Tell us what you need and we will do our best to make sure it gets addressed quickly.’ I don’t think we knew what to say. Tell you what we want? We’d never heard that before.”

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Attorney General Rules OTB Legal

P9040134The Maryland Attorney General's office gave written notice to community leaders in Timonium on Tuesday that a year-round off-track-betting room within the racetrack grandstand of the state fairgrounds would not be considered an expanded form of gambling, and thus would not require statewide approval by voters in a referendum.

The letter, written by Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Rowe, is an attempt to clarify the legality of the OTB proposed by the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC), which had been scheduled to open Feb. 1.

“In the absence of such language, there is no reason to read it in,” Rowe wrote.

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February 2016 Newsletter Available

newsletter2016 2The February 2016 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 each licensed owner and trainer in the state of Maryland.


OTB Network Set For Possible Expansion

TimoniumExposing horse racing to more and more people is a key element in the Stronach Group’s plans for building Maryland horseracing into a premier sport in the country and a strong performer within the state.

A month ago, the Maryland Jockey Club released the news that its Export Signal’s handle figures in 2015 were up nearly 20 percent over the year before. Now, it is trying to expand the number of people who have access to those signals in the state and build a bigger fan base through the re-establishment and expansion of off track betting sites, or OTBs.

“The primary reason we’re doing this,” says MJC vice president and general manager Sal Sinatra, “is to build convenience for our customers and exposure to racing throughout the state.”

The MJC dipped its toe back in the OTB waters last May when it opened its first new site at Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino leading up to Preakness week. That project has outperformed projections to this point, contributing $7 million in handle to last year’s coffers in about six months of operation.

Sinatra said in late January the popularity of the Horseshoe’s OTB continues and is now expected to produce $12 million in its first year, again beating pre-opening projections by at least $2 million. Now, OTB expansion is moving forward.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, at 6 p.m., the Maryland Racing Commission will hold an open hearing in the Mosner Miller building at the Timonium Fairgrounds (pictured) to listen to the MJC’s proposal for an OTB at the racetrack there. The meeting is designed to inform the MRC, area residents and legislators about the OTB project and give interested parties an opportunity to ask questions and voice opinions about the proposed facility.

David Richardson, MTHA Executive Director has commented that the Timonium OTB “is projected to generate over $500,000 annually for the Thoroughbred Purse Account.”
Sinatra and Richardson, along with other industry leaders, had a meeting with several area legislators Jan. 29 to inform them of the plans.

“I think there has been some misunderstanding about what an OTB is,” Sinatra says. “There is concern [in the surrounding community] that it is going to be a casino, which it won’t be and never will be.”

Sinatra said he sees the Timonium OTB which would be located on the second floor of the grandstand, near the newly remodeled restaurant, High Tops Grandstand Grill, as a place those coming to the fairgrounds throughout the year for various other activities will be able to utilize.

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Horsemen's Health System A Success

iStock 000075734267 XXXLargeEveryone knew the new Horsemen’s Health System launched by the MTHA and Maryland Jockey Club last September was needed, but no one anticipated how quickly patient numbers would rise or how successful the program of new services provided by MedStar doctors would be.

In the four months since Sept. 12, when the new professional quarters at Laurel Park were opened, more than 275 patients have been treated by MedStar physicians for issues as simple as the common cold to those as complicated as the trauma suffered by jockeys falling from their mounts.

“So far, this is probably the most helpful program I’ve seen,” says Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission. “The partnership they’ve created [among the MJC, MTHA and MedStar] is the most productive and professionally run I’ve seen anywhere in the country. The individual record-keeping is tremendous; the availability of doctors to see patients on a regular basis; the rapid access to the MedStar network for things that can’t be dealt with at the racetrack; the welcoming atmosphere; the doctors on a regular schedule, allowing the development of doctor-patient relationships; and the electronic record-keeping that is portable – I really think this is a model program for the country and should be a standard.”

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January 2016 Newsletter Available

newsletter2016 1The January 2016 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 each licensed owner and trainer in the state of Maryland.


Purse Release