New Look For Pension

Monday, June 3, 2024

The Maryland Backstretch Pension Plan, which this year achieved more than 300 participants at the close of signups June 1, plans to have a new look in the future.

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Board of Directors at its most recent meeting approved a proposal to set up an online platform for a “self-directed” plan whereby individual account holders can monitor and direct their funds similar to other pension plans or 401Ks. 

Currently, those in the pension plan receive an annual statement and cannot shift money in investment accounts or make individual contributions to the plan.

The MTHA Board of Directors again this year authorized $1 million for Plan Year 2023-24, and it was approved by the Maryland Racing Commission. The plan is available to trainers, assistant trainers and backstretch workers, which includes grooms, exercise riders, hot walkers, pony persons and stable foremen who meet various criteria.

The MTHA contribution was first raised to $1 million for Plan Year 2021-22.

Retirement benefits for backstretch workers are a reality thanks to a program started by the MTHA in 1988. The pension fund is derived from money deducted annually from the Purse Account. In 2020, the MTHA shifted to online signups given COVID-19 restrictions and has maintained that format since that time.