First published in the July 2023 Equiery

On June 9, Governor Wes Moore announced appointments to Maryland’s new Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority, which was created through Senate Bill 720 that passed earlier this year. TROA will work to improve horse racing and training facilities in Maryland.

“The horse racing industry is an important part of our state’s history and our present-day economy. We have a long, distinguished tradition of racing here in our state,” said Gov. Moore. “I was proud to attend the Preakness as governor this year and to have the opportunity to celebrate that incredible Maryland institution. My administration is committed to working with all stakeholders to not only move us forward but to ensure a solid, successful, and sustainable future for Maryland racing. The Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority will help us reach that goal, and I appreciate the General Assembly’s leadership and action in recognizing the need for this new Authority.”

TROA is separate from the Maryland Racing Commission. TROA is tasked with working with industry experts to study issues and make recommendations about the future of racing in Maryland.

Under Senate Bill 720, the governor makes the following appointments:
• Three members with relevant industry, business or government experience especially real estate development or financial services, one of whom will serve as chair
• One member from a list of two individuals nominated by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association
• One member from a list of two individuals nominated by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association
• Three ex-officio members of the community who reside near Laurel Park Race Course, Pimlico Race Course, and the Bowie Race Course Training Center, respectively

The authority also includes:
• A member appointed by the Senate President
• A member appointed by the Speaker of the House
• A representative from the Maryland Stadium Authority
• A representative from the Maryland Economic Development Corporation
• A member of the Maryland Racing Commission

SB720 also provided that a majority of the members of the Authority may not have a direct interest in Thoroughbred racing as either an owner, trainer, or licensee.

Greg Cross, an attorney at Venable LLP, will serve as chair. Cross has represented horse breeding farms since the early 1990s and represented the State of Maryland in connection with the 2009 bankruptcy of the then-owner of the Preakness Stakes, Magna Entertainment. He also negotiated the 2010 agreement that ensured the Preakness Stakes cannot be moved out of Maryland. Cross has spent the last year actively engaged in conversations with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Maryland Stadium Authority, and 1/ST Racing regarding options for the future of Maryland racing.

Mary Tydings is a leader in talent recruitment and placement who recently retired after a 35-year career at Russell Reynolds Associates. Tydings and her family have long ties to horse racing in Maryland. She participated extensively in riding programs in her youth and her family owned several steeplechase horses. Her uncle, John Schapiro, was the longtime owner of Laurel Park racetrack and her cousin, Joe Davies, is a nationally recognized steeplechase trainer.

Jeff L. Hargrave, a native of Baltimore City, is the Founder and President of Mahogany, Inc. Hargrave is a philanthropist who is currently a member of numerous boards that support the community. He is the Chair of Presidents’ RoundTable and Vice Chair of Baltimore Development Corporation. He is a board member for the Greater Baltimore Committee and Maryland Chamber of Commerce. He previously served as the Baltimore region Chapter Chair for the Associated Builders and Contractors.

Alan Foreman, who was nominated by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, is one of the leading racing law attorneys in the U.S. In addition to his law practice, Foreman is chair and chief executive officer of Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Inc., based in Stevenson, which represents more than 20,000 owners and trainers throughout the U.S. He is also a founding director of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and is counsel to many horsemen’s and racing industry organizations. Early in his career, Foreman served as an Assistant Attorney General of the State of Maryland and counsel to the Maryland Racing Commission.

Thomas J. (Tom) Rooney, who was nominated by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, is a former Congressman and currently serves as the president and chief executive officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. A Thoroughbred owner and breeder who hails from one of America’s great sporting families, Rooney has taken an active role for several years in his family’s Shamrock Farm, a Thoroughbred breeding and lay-up operation in Woodbine, founded by his grandfather. Rooney has also served on the board of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.
The three appointed ex-officio members of the community include: Joe Franco (Laurel Park Race Course); Nicole Earle (Pimlico Race Course); and Gavin Stokes (Bowie Race Course Training Center).