Pimlico: Damon Gladden

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Damon Gladden, who at age 17 began his first job on the backstretch at Pimlico Race Course in his hometown, has been selected the Pimlico Groom of the Year for 2023.

Gladden, who over the years has worked with horses in California, Arizona, Minnesota, Virginia, New York and Delaware, has spent the bulk of his career in Maryland. Among the trainers for whom he has worked are Richard Delp, Francis Campitelli, Crystal Pickett, Phil Marino, Mark Reid, Mary Eppler, King Leatherbury and Howard Wolfendale. He currently serves as assistant trainer for Brittany Russell at Pimlico.

“I think I knew right away this is what I wanted to do, and I continue to do it,” Gladden said. “I was born and raised in Baltimore but didn’t know the track existed. I was a fast learner who learned a lot from the older guys and picked up on things. Racing was a summer job when I started, and when I graduated from Frederick Douglas High School in 1987 little did I know it would become my career. I have no regrets.”

Gladden spent three years working for retired trainer Mark Reid at Delaware, but decided he didn’t want to continue traveling every day. He was offered his current position by Russell running the Pimlico shed row about two-and-a-half years ago. He has fond memories of rubbing Maryland legend Ben’s Cat for two years before he reached the $2 million mark in earnings.

Gladden is known at Pimlico for assisting the MTHA with various events and for firing up his grill and cooking for the backstretch community in the warmer months.

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