Governor appoints members of MD Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority

By: Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Posted: June 10, 2023

Gov. Wes Moore has announced appointments to the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority, which was created by the General Assembly this spring. The authority will make recommendations regarding the racing industry in Maryland and will work to improve horse racing and training facilities in the state.

“The horse racing industry is an important part of our state’s history and our present-day economy,” Moore said in a release. “We have a long, distinguished tradition of racing here in our state. 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.”

The authority, separate from the Maryland Racing Commission, will convene experts to study issues and make recommendations about the future of racing, including investment in Maryland’s racing facilities, to ensure that Maryland remains a premier racing destination for many years to come.

Under Senate Bill 720, the governor makes the following appointments: Three members, 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; and three ex-officio members of the community who reside near Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, and the Bowie Training Center.

The authority also includes a member appointed by the Senate President; a member appointed by the Speaker of the House; representative from the Maryland Stadium Authority; a representative from the Maryland Economic Development Corporation; and a member of the Maryland Racing Commission.

Greg Cross, a veteran attorney at Venable LLP with significant experience in the state’s racing industry, will serve as chair. Cross is recognized as one of the nation’s expert commercial real estate and structured finance litigators.

In the racing industry, Cross represented horse breeding farms beginning in the 1990s and represented the state of Maryland in connection with the 2009 bankruptcy of the then-owner of the Preakness Stakes, Magna Entertainment. He negotiated a 2010 agreement with the predecessor of The Stronach Group that ensured the Preakness could not be moved out of Maryland. He has represented the Maryland Economic Development Corp. in the acquisition, construction and redevelopment of racing facilities as required by House Bill 897. Through this work, Cross spent the past year actively engaged in conversations with the MTHA, MHBA, Maryland Stadium Authority and 1/ST Racing (TSG) regarding options for the future of Maryland racing.

“Greg Cross is the leader we need in this critical position,” Moore said. “He has helped Maryland racing navigate challenging times in the past and has played a key role in the development and implementation of racing legislation in recent years–he is the right person to hit the ground running and help us chart a path forward.”

“I am excited and honored to accept this appointment,” Cross said. “I care deeply about the future of Maryland racing and I appreciate Gov. Moore’s confidence in me to lead this new authority. In partnership with my fellow appointees, we will get to work quickly to explore and define possibilities for the future of Maryland’s horse racing industry.”

Additional authority members appointed by Moore include:

Mary Tydings

Mary Tydings is a leader in talent recruitment and placement. Tydings recently retired after a 35-year career at Russell Reynolds Associates, a major international executive search and leadership advisory firm. During her career she partnered with major national and international foundations, non-governmental organizations, and cultural and higher education institutions to recruit key leaders. Tydings advised board leadership on governance and succession planning, built and led the firm’s social impact sector practice, and served as a member of the firm’s executive committee.

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 and her cousin, Joe Davies, is a nationally recognized steeplechase trainer. Tydings is a member of the Board of the Maryland Center for History and Culture and has previously served as a member of the Board of Bowdoin College and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.

Jeff Hargrave

Jeff L. Hargrave is the Founder and President of Mahogany Inc., a commercial construction firm specializing in architectural millwork, general contracting, and commissioning services since 1991. Hargrave is a native of Baltimore City. He graduated from Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School and later studied business management at Catonsville Community College and the University of Phoenix. His career track moved forward steadily from carpenter to foreman, superintendent, and proud owner and CEO of Mahogany. In 2018 Hargrave won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs of the Year award in the service category for the Mid-Atlantic region and was also named a national finalist in his category.

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 Corp. 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 (nominated by the MTHA)

Alan Foreman is one of the leading racing law attorneys in the United States. In addition to his law practice, Foreman is Chair and CEO of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Associations, which represents more than 20,000 owners and trainers throughout the United States. 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 MRC.

Foreman is the co-author of the widely recognized Task Force Report on Racehorse Health and Safety that followed the spate of catastrophic breakdowns at Aqueduct Racetrack in 2011-2012. Foreman represented the Maryland racing industry in the negotiations that developed the Maryland Racing and Community Redevelopment Plan for Laurel and Pimlico. His law practice involves all areas of equine and horse racing law representing horse owners, breeders, farms, jockeys, stables, trainers and horsemen’s organizations. He is widely credited with creating the Maryland Jockey Injury Compensation Fund in 1984, the nation’s first workers, compensation program for jockeys.

Thomas J. Rooney (nominated by the MHBA)

Thomas J. “Tom” Rooney is a former Congressman and currently serves as the president and chief executive officer of the NTRA. 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, Md., founded by his grandfather.

Rooney has a deep background in racing and sports. He grew up attending the races with family members in his native Pennsylvania as well as in Maryland, New York, Florida, and Kentucky. Rooney has also served on the board of the MHBA.

As a Congressman, Rooney focused on economic, agricultural, national security and military issues. Prior to becoming a member of the House of Representatives, Rooney served with the U.S. Army as a lawyer in the JAG Corps.

The three appointed ex-officio members of the community are Joe Franco (Laurel), Nicole Earle (Pimlico), and Gavin Stokes (Bowie).

(Photo courtesy of Jim McCue)