David Hayden

David Hayden, who co-owns Dark Hollow Farm and Safely Home Farm with his wife of 56 years, JoAnn, has participated in the Maryland racing industry for more than 50 years. He said he has seen the best of times, and now the worst of times.

David witnessed and was proud to participate in what was called the “Renaissance of Maryland racing” during the Frank DeFrancis and Manfuso brothers era—innovative advertising and promotional campaigns were the norm; the racing surfaces, backstretch and grandstands were meticulously maintained; and the racing program prospered.

“It was fun to take your friends to the track,” David said. “Local ownership and management cared. Money was spent. Money was made.”

David said the current out-of-the-country ownership group could care less about the physical condition of the front side. He called the condition of the stable areas at Laurel Park and Pimlico deplorable, and said limited money is spent on advertising and marketing campaigns.

“Current ownership believes the likes of Bruno Mars is more important to racing than the product itself: the racehorse,” David said. “There is no day-to-day on-site upper-level management. The Preakness used to make money. Today, money is lost. At the recent Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority meeting, management suggested a racing schedule of 80 to 90 days. If that were to happen it would completely neuter the Maryland breeding and racing Industry—we must not let that happen.”

David, who served as a member of the Maryland Racing Commission for 15 years and has been a member of the MHBA and MTHA for decades, has a background in marketing and promotion. Dark Hollow has 14 broodmares, four yearlings retained for racing, eight weanlings and six horses in training. He and his wife have bred, raced or sold more than 60 stakes horses including the 1989 champion sprinter Safety Kept, a member of the Hall of Fame.

“We are at a vital time right now,” David said. “Our industry’s future is at stake in the next few years. We only have one chance to turn things around. This is our chance to get it right for the horses, with a proper stable area and track maintenance, proper housing for backstretch workers, proper frontside facilities, and proper marketing strategies and campaigns. I’m retired and have the time and energy to work diligently to restore Maryland racing back to the ‘best of times’ with my fellow MTHA board members if elected.”