Laurel gets OK to host Fair Hill steeplechase races in May

The Maryland Racing Commission Feb. 27 signed off a plan by the Cecil County Breeders' Fair to hold its one-day steeplechase meet May 23 at Laurel Park rather than at Fair Hill, where a renovation project continues.

The CCBF and Fair Hill Foundation earlier reached an agreement with the Maryland Jockey Club to move the event for one year. The Fair Hill Races, a six-race program that offers pari-mutuel wagering, will return to Cecil County in 2021.

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Hearings on MD racing legislation show strong support

The initial Maryland General Assembly committee hearings on legislation that would rebuild Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park and strengthen the foundation for horse racing over the next 30 years reflected strong support from state, county and city government officials as well as business leaders.

Two bills—they are almost identical—were heard Feb. 25 in the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. The legislation creates a funding structure for about $375 million in bonds for the two projects, puts the property on which the two tracks sit under city or county control, and has provisions for equine health and safety initiatives.

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Brooks Robinson meets Brooks Robinson at Laurel

Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson met his equine namesake Feb. 15 at Laurel Park courtesy of owner Mary Boskin and trainer Hugh McMahon.

Brooks Robinson didn't race in the afternoon but Brooks Robinson, who played for the Baltimore Orioles from 1955-77 and later transitioned into a color commentator for the team, visited the 5-year-old Maryland-bred gelding by Not For Love in the barn area in the morning. Boskin had reached out to McMahon to schedule a time when Robinson could come meet the horse.

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Excellence in Maryland racing recognized at Renaissance Awards

Members of the Maryland backstretch community, along with owners, trainers and jockeys, were recognized for excellence in 2019 at the third Renaissance Award dinner held Feb. 11 at the Guinness Open Gate Brewery near Baltimore.

The awards program is a joint effort among the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Maryland Horse Breeders Association and Maryland Jockey Club.

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New Recognition Program For Grooms Begins

The MTHA Board of Directors at its January meeting approved a proposal to recognize grooms on race days at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course with the MTHA Best Turned Out Horse Award.

Maryland Jockey Club racing official Jason Egan will identify the best turned out horse in the paddock in two randomly selected races. The groom of the selected horse will receive a $50 Visa cash card; Egan will provide winners with a certificate that can be exchanged for the card in the MTHA grandstand office.

The winners will be identified by MJC track announcer Dave Rodman during the course of the racing day.

The program began on February 1 with winners Noe Estrada Rodriguez (Miguel Vera) and Luis Garcia (Anthony Farrior) and continued on February 2 with winners Victor Garcia (Gary Capuano) and Rafael Hernandez (Mary Eppler)

The program will be in place through 2020.

New MRC Safety and Welfare Regulations Now In Effect

Horsemen are reminded that four new Maryland Racing Commission regulations are now in effect.

No non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs  (NSAIDs) can be administered within 48 hours of  a horse’s race.

The presence of more than one NSAID in a test sample (called stacking) will constitute a violation.

The administration of any intra-articular injection is restricted to 14 days before a horse is anticipated to run. The attending veterinarian must report the injection to Equine Medical Director Dr. Libby Daniel, and the horse will not be permitted to run for 14 days from the date of the injection. (The horse may be entered to run at the conclusion of the 14-day stand-down.  The reporting forms for intra-articular injections are available at the MRC website ( and must be timely sent to Dr. Daniel.

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Purse Release