Robb: MTHA election about protecting Maryland owners, trainers

by | Jul 27, 2017 | Breaking, Business, Maryland, MD Business, Opinion, Top Stories


My name is John J Robb. I am running for the MTHA Board. After 40+ years of training in Maryland and serving on the HBPA & MTHA board for over 30 years, I feel like there is a need for change. While the current board has a “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, I, as well as many other trainers and owners, feel that the board is broke.

The MTHA Board should be comprised of trainers and owners whose livelihood depends on successful Maryland racing. The members should not have affiliations with other boards and/or race track management. The breeders have a board to represent their interests, management has the Maryland Jockey Club, the MTHA is meant to represent the trainers and owners.

The current MTHA board, according to the published bios, focused on unity, breeders, back stretch workers, after-care, and growing owners. All important issues, unfortunately issues that will be a moot point if Maryland continues to lose trainers and owners. Programs to get new owners are a great idea, but keeping current owners is nearly impossible, so how can we in good conscience get and keep new owners?

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The MTHA board should meet every month with additional meetings as needed. All meetings should obviously be attended by all board members, which is not happening with the current board. These meetings should be open to all members. Members should feel free to share concerns without fear of retaliation. The board should work with ALL members to improve the condition book, race days, and claiming rules. The current condition book does not allow trainers to train a horse to a race or notify owners promptly as we never know what race is going to run. Racing three days a week and heavy turf racing further make running difficult.

Furthermore, while working with Annapolis to keep slot funds is very important, when the legislature realizes that more than half of the purse money is leaving the state, slot money will be in danger. The legislature allocated slot money to benefit Maryland racing. The MTHA presented to the Racing Comission and in their newsletter that 44 percent (including Preakness), 52 percent (excluding Preakness) of stakes earnings were paid to horses with Maryland connections. These numbers included Maryland Breeders’ Fund purses which if excluded, increases the amount of money leaving the state. Even so, 56 percent or 48 percent of purse money leaving the state is absolutely unacceptable. `

The newly elected MTHA Board needs to make protecting the interest of Maryland trainers and owners their priority. This is absolutely possible while maintaining a working relationship with track management, continuing and strengthening back stretch programs, and after care.

John J. Robb, a former longtime member of the MTHA board of directors, is currently seeking to rejoin the board. He is a trainer based at Laurel Park. 

Other board candidates who wish to contribute their opinions should email [email protected]