Recreation Program Updated, Improved

Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has unveiled a broad schedule of events and activities in July and August as part of its revised Backstretch Recreation Program, which will be overseen by Bryant Paz.

The schedule kicks off Thursday, July 4, at 11:30 a.m. with a cookout outside of the Laurel Park Recreation Room. The slate includes trips to the beach and local shopping malls as well as basketball, pickle ball, billiards, bowling and poker.

Paz and his family operate the Laurel Track Kitchen, and have done so for decades. He and his father, Miguel, came to Maryland in 1993 and worked in catering at a country club. That job led to them making contacts with racetrack management, and they were offered the opportunity to operate the backstretch food service.

Bryant Paz worked at Colonial Downs in Virginia for about seven years for the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protection Association handling the recreation program. The program included basketball, volleyball and recreational trips.

“I’m an avid sports fan and attend sporting events in person,” said Paz, who currently serves as a youth soccer coach for the Maryland City Mustangs. “We’re going to try to revitalize the (backstretch) sports program and make it available to all horsemen.”

For events that require transportation, Paz will keep a running list of those who sign up on a first-come, first-served basis as the van can only accommodate 10-11 people. Those who cannot be accommodated will move up the list for the next trip.

“We want to make sure everyone has a chance to participate,” Paz said. “We want to make sure everyone gets a chance. We’re trying to be inclusive.”

Paz, who also groomed horses when he was in his 20s, noted that alcohol will not be permitted for events held in the kitchen and recreation room. Be on the lookout for flyers in the kitchen and recreation room that announce each event, and contact Paz at 240-319-1892 for more information.

Recreation Director Dan Mangum will continue providing van service three times a week, usually twice a week at Laurel and once a week at Pimlico Race Course until its closure for construction in early September. Mangum generally provides transportation to social services agencies, food markets, medical appoints and the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration office.

Mangum’s schedule can fluctuate depending on need, so it’s best to arrange transportation in advance and check with him before making appointments so he can plan accordingly. He can be reached at 410-802-5798.