JoAnn Hayden co-owns picturesque Dark Hollow Farm and Safely Home Farm in Upperco, Maryland with her husband, David. The first-generation horsewoman plays an active role in the daily operations of both farms and is at home in the barn as much as in the Board room.
Hayden has been breeding and racing Thoroughbreds in Maryland for over 45 years highlighted by more than 50 stakes horses. Her all-stars include 2020 Gr.3 winner PROJECT WHISKEY, who joins Gr.1 winners POSEIDON’S WARRIOR (Alfred G. Vanderbilt-Gr.1), HOMEBOYKRIS (Champagne Stakes-Gr.1), and 2011 National Racing Hall of Fame inductee and Eclipse Award and Breeders Cup Sprint-Gr.1 winner SAFELY KEPT.
Hayden was an educator in the Baltimore County school system, teaching fourth and fifth grades for 32 years. She retired in 2000 and has since been focused on promoting and supporting the breeding and racing industries in Maryland. She currently serves on the Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation Board of Directors and has three horses in training based at Laurel Park, as well as four youngsters being prepared to join the racing stable in 2021.
Currently a member of the MTHA Board of Directors, Hayden is actively committed to supporting responsible aftercare of racehorses and finding them new careers after racing. She is a founding Board member of the highly successful Beyond The Wire thoroughbred aftercare program and is one of its most active members and ardent supporters.
Hayden’s interest in the MTHA stems from a desire to be part of the extensive positive impacts she believes the organization has taken the lead on. She references the MTHA’s fostering of consensus among stakeholders in Maryland, the organization’s taking the lead with the Horsemen’s Health System and Backstretch Pension Plan for the racing community, and its creation of an expedited purse release program for owners, while actively pursuing a myriad of programs to help horsemen.
“I believe the number one challenge facing Maryland racing is the danger posed by the threat of losing slots revenue that supplements our purse account and owner and breeder bonuses. The recent passage of the Racing and Community Development Act of 2020 protects the long-term future of horse racing in Maryland and gives us all reason for real optimism, but we can’t rest on our accomplishments,” remarked Hayden. “We have demonstrated what we can accomplish by working together as an industry and I plan to keep pushing for some creative thinking to push this industry forward.”"