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Category: Racing

Racing Rocked Annapolis

By Tom LaMarra (originally published on, the official website for the national Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association). The Maryland racing industry’s efforts to educate lawmakers and present a unified front paid off during the 2017 General Assembly session that ended April 10. The Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act contained several provisions that, had they passed, would have shifted money from the Purse Dedication Account, which is funded by a percentage of video lottery terminal revenue at the state’s six casinos. On the table was a recommendation for the industry, not the state, to pay about $2.5 million for Maryland Racing Commission operations, and another to strike a 2016 legislature-approved measure for the Maryland Lottery to pay $500,000 for a Preakness Stakes bonus for Maryland-bred or -sired runners that compete in the race, and $500,000 to revive an international turf stakes at Laurel Park. As a result of negotiations, the state will continue to fund the racing commission and the combined $1 million for the bonus and what is being called the Maryland International will still come from the Maryland Lottery. Representatives of the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries spent quite a bit of time in Annapolis during the winter and early spring to make the case that racing and breeding is making a comeback, and denting the purse account would be detrimental to the industry and the state’s economy. “I’m happy,”...

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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permission of Frank Vespe Legislation that would have created an equine medical director position in Maryland has been withdrawn, victim to the fast-moving chaos of the legislative session.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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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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Mary Eppler Makes History at Laurel

Baltimore native Mary Eppler made racing history on December 31 when she became the first female trainer to ever win a trainer’s title at Laurel Park. Eppler, who is 62 and bases her horses out of Pimlico Race Course, finished out the fall meet with 24 wins, bringing her 2016 total to 49 wins, 43 seconds and 40 thirds. Her 2016 earning totaled $1,747,721 from 282 starts. She currently holds 761 career wins. Eppler credits her racing start to breaking and hot-walking horses for the late Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Sagamore Farm in Glyndon. From there she held a...

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All Bets Off wins $100,000 Potomac Pace

Last Tuesday, All Bets Off captured the inaugural $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington. Driven by Matt Kakaley, All Bets Off won by a nose over Split the House and tied Nuclear Breeze’s 2007 track record timed in 1:48:2. The Potomac Pace was the first race at the historic Rosecroft in nearly 10 years to offer a $100,000 or more purse. Split the House took the early lead around the first turn and continued out in front around the backstretch. Shamballa, the 9-56 favorite, tried to swing wide but posed no serious challenge. Kakaley eased All...

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