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Maryland Racing Commission Works to Protect Maryland Horses and Jockeys

Safety Committee Strengthens Health and Safety Protocols

BALTIMORE (May 13, 2019) – The Maryland Racing Commission Safety Committee, which recently expanded to include more stakeholders, met this month to examine ways to strengthen existing health and safety protocols for racehorses and jockeys and to plan for future protocols.

Facilitated by commission Chairman Michael Algeo, the committee discussed pre-race examinations, continuing education programs, and protocol for when lightning is detected in the area during a live racing program. The group also discussed various equine and human safety best practices to compare them with those in other jurisdictions.

The Safety Committee was formed five years ago, at a time when horse fatalities were on the rise. Since its formation, the committee has implemented policies and practices that protect the horses and their riders. Some of these practices include changing claiming rules, implementing a medication program, and instituting stricter pre-race examination protocols.

With more than 160 live racing days, Maryland is a pivotal point of attraction for racing in the United States. The state has more horses per square mile than any other state in the country, with 25 percent of Maryland’s agricultural land appropriated for horse-related purposes.

“Maryland’s horse industry is integral to the state’s economy,” said Michael Hopkins, Maryland Racing Commission executive director and former chairman of the Association of Racing Commissioners International. “The racing commission works tirelessly to ensure the safety and welfare of both the horses and their riders, and to maintain the integrity of a sport that is a timeless tradition in Maryland.”

This month’s Safety Committee meeting was attended by representatives of the racing commission, veterinary community, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Maryland Jockey Club, MedStar Health and the local jockey colony.

Learn more about the Maryland Racing Commission.

About the Maryland Racing Commission
The Maryland Racing Commission oversees and regulates both the harness and thoroughbred horse racing industry in Maryland. The commission employs approximately 22 individuals at each race track, including stewards who oversee the day-to-day operation of the races and enforce the rules of racing; veterinarians who inspect and perform pre-race and post-race physical examinations of the horses; specimen collectors; licensing staff; and investigators who observe and report unusual activity to the stewards.

About the Maryland Department of Labor
The Maryland Department of Labor is committed to safeguarding and protecting Marylanders. We're proud to support the economic stability of the state by providing businesses, the workforce, and the consuming public with high-quality, customer-focused regulatory, employment, and training services. For updates and information, follow the Maryland Department of Labor on Twitter (@MD_Labor), Facebook and visit our website.

Theresa Blaner
Director, Communications and Media Relations
410-230-6241 (office)
443-721-8637 (cell)