Backstretch Mailboxes

In an effort to improve accessibility to backstretch worker’s mail, which is a constant issue at most race track’s, the MTHA has made available in the newly refurbished Laurel Park Rec Room, 200 secure mailboxes to current residents of Maryland Jockey Club tracks.

One key per dorm room will be provided free of charge to currently employed residents in dorm rooms at Laurel Park and Pimlico as well as Laurel Commons.

Mail will be delivered daily to these mailboxes which can only be accessed by key holders. Previously, resident’s mail was held at the stable gate in a cardboard box.

Excess mailboxes will be provided to non-resident horsemen on a first come, first served basis.

Mailbox holders will be assigned a box number and can use the address of 3600 Laurel Ft. Meade Road, Box # ___, Laurel, MD 20724.

Call 410-902-6844 to sign up.

Benevolence Program

The goal of MTHA’s benevolence program is to enhance the quality of life on the Backstretch for trainers, assistant trainers, exercise riders, grooms, hotwalkers and the other workers who are essential to the care and training of Thoroughbreds who are in need. The MTHA benevolence program is recognized as one of the finest in the nation.

MTHA allocates significant funding for the following programs:

Medical and health benefits
Dental care
Preventative medical attention (such as flu vaccinations and prostate/breast cancer screenings)
Meal subsidies

Supplements to Backstretch employee health and insurance benefits

Burial assistance

To apply for benefits, workers must qualify by having a valid Maryland Racing Commission license and have worked for a trainer based at Laurel Park or Pimlico for at least six months (with proof). The employee must fill out the appropriate form, and the MTHA Health and Welfare Committee will review it. If approved, MTHA will contact the individual and arrange services.

For more information, call Jessica Hammond (301) 776-0404 or Tom LaMarra at (859) 492-8365‬.

Request Assistance

Counseling Program

The Horsemen’s Counseling Program has brought many backstretch workers a new lease on life. Addictions, depression, marital problems, financial issues—all can be addressed through services provided by this program. This program is a joint effort between the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Maryland Jockey Club and the Maryland Horsemen's Assistance Fund.

You can learn more about the MTHA Counseling Program here.

Fire & Disaster Insurance

As a service to Maryland’s horsemen, fire and disaster insurance is provided at no cost. Under this policy, MTHA members may be compensated for death or humane destruction of their horses due to a number of perils, including fire, lightning, wind storm, smoke and flood.

Coverage extends to horses located at or in transit to or from Bowie, Laurel, Pimlico and Timonium. Additionally, horses are covered when in transit from Bowie and Laurel to race and return from out-of-state tracks.

Lloyds Underwriters is the insurer and the MTHA is reimbursed for the premium by track management.

Health Fairs

No one likes to think about serious illness. But the fact is - many life-threatening problems can be successfully treated, and even cured, if they are diagnosed at an early stage.

Backstretch Health Fairs, sponsored by the MTHA and Maryland Horsemen’s Assistance Fund at Laurel Park and Pimlico offer screening services that have uncovered many such conditions.

Services include lipid profiling, screenings for blood pressure, body fat composition, carbon monoxide and skin cancer, PSA testing, colo-rectal counseling, plus seated massage therapy, and more. Health care providers are on hand to answer questions.

All services are FREE of charge to all backstretch employees and their families.

Horsemen's Health System

Maryland Jockey Club, in conjunction with Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, is proud to announce MedStar Health as the official medical partner of Maryland racing. MedStar will also serve as the official physicians for the innovative Horsemen’s Health System, which will provide routine and critical care to Maryland’s licensed horsemen and jockeys.

You can learn more about the Horsemen's Health System here.

Pension Program

Retirement benefits for backstretch workers are a reality in Maryland, thanks to a program started by the MTHA in 1988. The Pension Fund is derived from monies deducted annually from the Purse Account. Participants do not make individual contributions into the plan.

Sign-up for the Pension Fund is conducted each spring at both Laurel Park and Pimlico. At that time, employees register to receive benefits based on the previous year. Anyone employed in the care of horses on the backstretch, including trainers, is eligible to participate. However, the employee must have worked a minimum of 1,000 hours during the specified year, and provide documentation to that effect (with a W-2 or 1099 form, or tax return). Benefits become available when the employee reaches the age of 65, or at age 55 with 25 years of service.

For individual questions regarding your pension account, please contact Alison Bach at Pollard & Associates at 443-689-2549.

Check out the frequently asked questions about our Pension Program here.

Purse Protection / Retirement

The Maryland Purse Protection and Retirement Program was created by the MTHA Board of Directors to provide an ongoing mechanism to fund Thoroughbred retirement initiatives, and to help preserve and promote Maryland racing by funding the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Political Action Committee (PAC).

The MTHA has designed the program to uniquely address Maryland horsemen calls to fund equine aftercare programs, while incorporating the best attributes from similar programs across the country.

The specifics of the program include an optional $15 deduction from owner’s Horsemen’s Account for each horse that starts a race in Maryland. The deduction will be specifically allocated to Beyond The Wire($11) and the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s PAC ($4).

The Maryland Purse Protection and Retirement Program began in 2013 with the Pimlico meet.

Owners may opt-out of this program by filling out a form available in the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Racetrack Office any live race day between 9 AM and 4 PM or by calling the MTHA office at 410-902-6842.

Recreation Program

The MTHA's year-round recreation program provides such activities as softball, football, basketball, volleyball and bowling leagues on a regular basis, and also routinely sponsors golf tournaments and outings to Orioles and Bay Sox baseball games.

The MTHA provides a recreation director, Dan Mangum, to supervise this programs. Notices are posted on the backstretch at Pimlico, Laurel Park and Bowie and appear in the monthly newsletter.

For more information on MTHA's recreation program contact Dan at 410-802-5798 or email him at


In Annapolis

The Maryland General Assembly's recognition of the state's racing industry can be attributed, in large measure, to efforts of the MTHA. This organization continues to be instrumental in educating legislators about the economic impact of the industry. The MTHA not only presents the industry's cause during official legislative sessions, but also at informal gatherings and legislative events. To enhance, and ensure, horsemen's representation in Annapolis, the MTHA employs two year-round professional lobbyists.Political activities are supported by a Political Action Committee, which generates funds and solicits contributions that are used to support those elected officials who support the interests of horsemen.Representing the interests of Maryland horsemen is a fundamental purpose of the MTHA, and this organization is deeply committed to fulfilling its designated role.

If you would like to contribute to the Thoroughbred Horsemen's PAC please please send your donation to: Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, 6314 Windsor Mill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21207 By authority Wayne W. Wright, Treasurer.

Maryland Racing Commission

MTHA staff members represent horsemen at all open meetings of the Maryland Racing Commission, which typically take place on a monthly basis. The MTHA provides input on every issue that comes before the Commission regarding horsemen.

MTHA Express

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association operates a free shuttle service dubbed the MTHA EXPRESS which is available to currently licensed backstretch employees that work at Laurel Park and Pimlico.  

The free shuttle seats 10 people and visits places like the supermarket, local shopping centers, laundromats, movie theaters, etc.  

Operated at least two to three times a week, riders must signup in advance in the track kitchen at Laurel Park and Pimlico to assure a seat. Riders are asked to be at the stable gate for pickup at least 10 minutes prior to each trip. A schedule of events is posted regularly at the racetracks.

In addition, the MTHA Express van is utilized for trips to social services, health fairs and other events held in the area of each racetrack.

For more information, contact Dan Mangum at 410-802-5798 or Diana Pinones en espanol at 410-902-6842.

Trainer Benefit Trust Fund

Trainers and their spouses can receive a helping hand of limited assistance with medical and dental expenses through the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Benefit Trust Fund, administered by the MTHA.

Assistance is a founding purpose of horsemen’s organizations throughout the country and the MTHA’s Benefit Trust is recognized as one of the nation’s most robust programs designed to support individuals in need who aren’t covered by other programs. This initiative has been in place since the inception of the MTHA and is authorized annually by the Board of Directors.


Program is open to currently licensed trainers and their spouses. Eligible trainers must be currently stabled at Laurel Park or Pimlico and may be subject to a minimum requirement of 10 starts in Maryland for at least one year prior to the request, with a majority of the starts in Maryland during this time.

Eligibility is subject to a review by the MTHA’s Health & Welfare Committee.

The following eligible participants receive these benefits from the program:

$50.00 deductible per bill
90% coverage of balance
Up to a maximum benefit of $7,500 per calendar year

Spouse of Trainer
$50.00 deductible per bill
50% coverage of balance
Up to a maximum benefit of $5,000 per calendar year

If you are in need of assistance, please contact the MTHA Office at 410-902-6842.  You will be asked for a copy of your medical bills. No assistance will be offered without proper documentation and will be provided directly to the health care provider and not reimbursed to the individual.

Trainer Commission Program

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has worked with the Maryland Jockey Club to develop a system that will allow trainers access to the standard commission from purses in a more timely manner.

The MTHA Board of Directors unanimously voted to implement the program, which permits the automatic deduction by the Horsemen’s Bookkeeper of the standard 10% gross commission for trainers from all starters that finish first, second or third in all overnight and stakes races after purses are released. The hope is that the program, similar to the one by which jockeys are paid, helps get money to trainers more expeditiously, especially during this difficult economic period.

Trainers must enroll in this program in advance. Applications will be processed and verified within 30 days of submission of the required paperwork, which includes the enrollment form and an IRS Form W9. Forms will be available in the MTHA office and online at The MTHA will verify that forms are completed properly and will then transmit them securely to the MJC Bookkeeping department.

Trainers who are successfully enrolled in the program and verified will have funds available similar to the procedures regarding availability of the owners funds. The funds will consist of the trainer’s cleared earnings.

The program has been discussed by the MTHA over the last few years in response to feedback and suggestions by Maryland-based trainers.

“For a lot of trainers, getting the 10% within a reasonable period of time is important, especially at this time,” said trainer Dale Capuano. “It will help with cash flow, because the bills keep coming on our end. The owners pay it anyway, so I don’t see any negatives. It’s a good thing from my perspective. It does work well in Delaware.”

Delaware Park has used the automatic 10% trainer commission deduction for first- through third-place finishes for about 10 years, said Bessie Gruwell, Executive Director of the Delaware THA. It has worked very well, she said, and is an “extremely simple” process.

“The trainers absolutely love it,” Gruwell said. “If they don’t want to do it—some trainers have different deals with owners—they can opt out, but traditionally most of them here have the 10% deduction. New Jersey also does it, and people who have come here from Oaklawn Park (in Arkansas) said they do it there. It’s widely accepted—nobody complains about it.”

Many Maryland-based trainers ship horses to Delaware Park to race throughout the course of the track’s meet and are familiar with the automatic deduction.

Trainer Commission Deduction Program Form