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Racing’s Equine Medical Director: Victim of Legislative Chaos?

by Frank Vespe; originally appeared on; reprinted and reposted with permission of Frank Vespe Legislation that would have created an equine medical director position in Maryland has been withdrawn, victim to the fast-moving chaos of the legislative session. The bill, supporters decided, was “untimely,” as Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) president Sal Sinatra termed it. The MJC, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and Maryland Horse Breeders Association, as well as the state’s Standardbred interests, all were on board. But the bill became untimely in the face of a proposal to take millions of dollars out of racing industry purses. With...

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Mid-way in the 2017 Maryland Legislative Session

The 437th session of the Maryland General Assembly is in full swing!  Also known as the “Legislative Session,” these 90 days are an intense roller coaster of parliamentary drama. Most Maryland senators and delegates leave their “real jobs” and “real lives” for 3 months, relocating to Annapolis to craft the laws and regulations that govern our state.  It is not uncommon for 2,000 – 3,000 bills to be filed each session, and every single one of them receives at least one hearing before session adjourns on April. Session convened on January 11, and the first month is usually pretty low-key...

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$30,000 awarded to 23 Maryland horse groups

  $30,000 in grants is being distributed by the Maryland Horse Industry Board (an ag commodity board housed at the Maryland Department of Agriculture) for 23 projects ranging from training to help animal control workers in equine welfare cases, enhance facilities for inner city children to learn about horses and horsemanship, and restore historic Maryland horse racing films from the 1920s that have never been seen by the public.  Nearly half of this year’s grantees received funding for projects related to 4-H, Pony Club and therapeutic horsemanship programs. (Scroll down to see who is getting a grant.) Funding for these grants and the Maryland Horse Industry Board is provided by the Maryland Feed Fund, which collects $6 on every ton of horse feed sold in the state. The funding is collected through the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Weights & Measures Section (these are the folks that make sure that when you purchase a gallon of milk or gas is a true gallon, or that 50 lb bag of horse feed is 50 pounds). Projects are evaluated based on their value to the industry, degree of industry promotion, size and scope of activity, financial need, potential for matching funds, and overall quality of the written presentation. Grants are capped at $3,000 in order to award funds to as many groups as possible. Grant recipients are required to file a project report...

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Fair Hill short listed for CCI4*; Dulles Airport considers International Equine Import/Export Facility

Fair Hill has been named as one of the potential sites for a new 2019 CCI4* eventing competition in the United States. The other possible location is Great Meadow in neighboring Virginia. Both sites currently host FEI-level eventing competitions. This past summer, the board of directors of Fair Hill International submitted a bid to the United States Equestrian Federation to become only the second 4-Star event in the United States (and the seventh in the world). It was originally expected that this new Olympic-caliber event would be held in the autumn of 2018. Following extensive review and analysis of each proposal by the CCI4* Task Force, the Eventing Committee, the International Disciplines Council, and the Board of Directors, it was concluded that, due to changes in location and date related to the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, the inaugural CCI4* event will be held in the autumn of 2019. FHI currently hosts a 3-star and 2-star event in October each year. The only 4-Star currently in the U.S. is The Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event held each April. If Fair Hill were to become a 4-Star event, Maryland then would equal Kentucky as having a Triple Crown race (the Preakness) and a 4-Star event, Fair Hill International. In order to secure the bid, Trish Gilbert (FHI chairman) and Carla Geiersbach (FHI executive director) are working closely with the Maryland Department...

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Cathryn Sophia named top Mid-Atlantic TB

Maryland-bred Cathryn Sophia was just named the top horse bred in the Mid-Atlantic by a poll put out by the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz. Voting was done by about two dozen media members and other Thoroughbred racing participants in the Mid-Atlantic region. Cathryn Sophia’s stellar 2016 season had her finishing in the money in all seven of her starts, winning four of them. She won three graded races and earned more than $1.1 million in 2016 alone. The big win of the year by the 2013 daughter of Street Boss was the Kentucky Oaks (G1) in May. She won by 2 3/4 lengths with Javier Castellano in the irons. The filly’s breeder Robert T. Manfuso told The Racing Biz, “It’s exciting. She’s a Maryland-bred and winning the Kentucky Oaks in an incredible thing.” The filly is out of Sheave, an unraced mare by Mineshaft. She was sold by Manfuso in 2014 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearling Sale in Timonium and was bought by Charles Zacney for $30,000. He named the filly after his niece. She went in training with John Servis, based out of Prax Racing and was campaigned under the Cash Is King LLC silks. Servis called her a true campaigner. Zacney sold Cathryn Sophia at this past November’s Fasig-Tipton sale for $1.4 million. She was bought by SF Bloodstock and will be bred to Pioneerof the...

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Dr. Daniel Named New State Vet

Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Daniel took over the role of state veterinarian for the Maryland Racing Commission on January 1, replacing Dr. David Zipf who retired from MRC after 50-plus years at the end of the 2016 season. Dr. Daniel is the state vet for West Virginia working at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and plans to continue that role as well. She told the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, “I’m a workaholic. I got that from my dad.” She also stated that she had been substituting at the Maryland tracks for the past two years and looks forward...

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