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What’s killing racehorses?

Photo by Emily Calkins

The sudden death of horses at racetracks is causing alarm and concern in some circles.

According to the Horseracing Wrongs website, 42 horses died at Santa Anita Park since Dec. 26, 2018. During the same time period, there were 86 equine deaths at New York tracks, 62 in Florida, 35 in West Virginia and 52 in Pennsylvania.

Mike Hopkins, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, said 24 deaths occurred at Maryland tracks this year, including four at Pimlico and 17 at Laurel Park, a lower number despite Laurel’s nearly year-round racing calendar with a higher volume of races and horses compared with many tracks in competing states.

Racing officials and others familiar with the industry say a combination of factors are leading to a higher number of fatalities in other states, while Maryland appears to be benefitting from proactive measures to address horse safety.

“When you’ve got a spate of fatalities and breakdowns, it’s always because something has changed and it’s always multi-factorial,” said Alan Foreman, general counsel to the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA).

“We’re laser focused in Maryland on the safety and welfare of the horse,” he said. “We’re implementing measures here, and working collectively throughout the mid-Atlantic to improve what we’re doing.”

Surface Tension

Frank Stronach, founder of The Stronach Group (TSG), the Canadian entertainment and real estate company that owns Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, is no longer officially involved with the business, but asserted that Laurel Park’s safety record is largely a result of improvements made during his tenure as track owner.

“I spent between $30 and $40 million of my own money to raise the track foundation seven feet and personally supervised the construction,” Stronach said.

The improvements were necessary because Laurel Park was built on a swamp and suffers from poor drainage, he explained.

David Richardson, MTHA’s executive director, emphasized that communication between stakeholders at the track is a critical element of maintaining track safety.

“We took the bull by the horns in terms of track surfaces,” he said. “The Maryland Jockey Club consults with the jockeys and trainers, and when the horsemen report a problem with the track, it gets fixed right away.”

TSG officials hope to provide an added safety measure for Laurel in their proposed redevelopment plan by installing a synthetic Tapeta track, a mixture of silica sand, wax and fiber that handles wet weather and heavy rainfall extremely well.

Similar to turf, the surface would help prevent horsemen from scratching horses when extreme weather forces turf races to switch to the dirt track and help sustain the handle that can be lost when bettors shy away from the unpredictability of a different surface.

“We’re really putting ourselves at a huge advantage by adding a safe and much more year-round surface,” Foreman said. “No other track in the country has dirt, synthetic and turf.”

Climate Change

The official investigation of California’s tragedies hasn’t been released yet, but Foreman, one of four industry experts who investigated the 2011 and 2012 spike in equine fatalities at New York’s Aqueduct Race Track, thinks climate may be a contributing factor.

“[Santa Anita] had the heaviest rains they’ve ever had in their history this year and also had very cold temperatures,” he noted. “Southern California is essentially an arid climate and continuing heavy water on the racetrack changed the conditions of the racing surface.”

This year’s persistent drought could well have contributed to equine fatalities in New York, he added, resulting in a harder surface than horses were not used to.

California’s smaller horse population might constitute another significant difference, Foreman suggested.

“Those horses do not ship around, and they run back to back races,” he said. “They’re not taking a rest and going to another state between races. You can get a tired horse population that reacts to a racing surface, things that we just don’t see here.”

Safety Template

Medication protocols are another factor that has been attracting scrutiny.

“I think overmedication is a primary reason we’re seeing so many injuries and breakdowns,” said Stronach, who is one of the advocates for the proposed Horseracing Integrity Act now being considered by Congress.

Foreman and other industry experts agree in principle but say the bill goes too far by banning race day Lasix, a diuretic given to temporarily decrease a horse’s weight.

“[This] will cause more equine deaths,” stated Eric Hamelback, CEO of the national Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, while Foreman said Lasix has no association with breakdowns.

The bigger problem stems from anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids administered too close to race days, Foreman said. While they treat swelling and pain, they can also prevent veterinarians and trainers from noticing other physical situations that could threaten a horse’s safety or make it more prone to injury.

“We’re working with experts to ensure racing is as good and safe as it can be and the record in Maryland demonstrates that,” Foreman said. “A lot of this is evidence-based, and hopefully what we do here will be a template for the rest of the country, particularly California.”


Festivities and family fun set for Columbia in December


Holiday events are scheduled throughout the month of December in Downtown Columbia from holiday craft festivals, a Winter Wonderland, theatrical and musical performances, New Year’s Eve celebrations, to the 26th Annual Symphony of Lights.

“From the kick-off of the Symphony of Lights to New Year’s Eve Fireworks, Downtown Columbia is the place to be for families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to gather and celebrate the season with craft festivals, artist performances and our very own Winter Wonderland,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Please join us in Downtown Columbia this December and light up your holidays with joy and fun.”

“Visit Howard County is promoting Holiday events across Howard County,” said Barbara Nicklas, Visit Howard County Board Chair. ”December in Downtown Columbia will make it easy for visitors and residents alike to know all that is happening in Downtown Columbia this year.”

“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Downtown Columbia Partnership this year to promote Downtown Columbia as a Holiday hotspot,” said Amanda Hof, Executive Director for Visit Howard County.

“Downtown Columbia is quickly growing into a bold and vibrant downtown and there are more events and activities than ever before, said Phillip Dodge, Executive Director for the Downtown Columbia Partnership. “We’re thrilled to partner with the County Executive and Visit Howard County to present a unified marketing campaign for all of the exciting things to do in December in Downtown Columbia.”

Participating businesses and organizations include:

  • Candlelight Concert Society
  • Columbia Art Center
  • Columbia Association
  • Columbia Festival of the Arts
  • The Columbia Orchestra
  • Columbia Pro Cantare
  • Cured/18th & 21st
  • Downtown Columbia Partnership
  • Historic Oakland Manor
  • Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center           
  • Howard County Arts Council
  • Howard County Library System        
  • Inner Arbor Trust
  • The Mall in Columbia
  • Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods
  • Rep Stage in residence at Howard Community College
  • The Soundry
  • Toby’s Dinner Theatre

View events and most up to date list of participating businesses and organizations at DecemberDowntownColumbia.com.

Free parking in Anne Arundel County for the holidays


Anne Arundel County will offer free parking in the Whitmore Parking Garage in downtown Annapolis during several days of holiday shopping designed to highlight local businesses. The Whitmore Parking Garage is located at 25 Clay Street, across from the Arundel Center.

The shopping events are sponsored by the Downtown Annapolis Partnership. Organizers host the event to remind shoppers that when they patronize a small business, they are voting with their dollars to keep these unique locally-owned stores in our community. 

The first three Thursday evenings in December feature late night shopping fun in downtown Annapolis, as part of Midnight Madness. Shops and restaurants stay open late, and there is entertainment throughout the downtown area including West Street, Maryland Ave, Main Street, and the city dock area. The window displays are decorated for the holidays, and the city shines with festive lights, trees, and garland. 

The free parking at Whitmore Parking Garage is available during Midnight Madness Thursdays – December 5th,12th, & 19th: 4 p.m. – 6 a.m.

Whitmore Parking Garage is also free every Sunday year-round from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information on the events visit http://www.downtownannapolispartnership.org

CAMI elects 2020 board of directors


The Cybersecurity Association of Maryland Inc. (CAMI) has elected its 2020 executive committee and board of directors with Gregg Smith, president and CEO of Attila Security, serving a one-year term as board chairman effective Jan. 1, 2020.

He succeeds Gina Abate, president and CEO of Edwards Performance Solutions, who served as board chair since 2018 and will continue to serve on the board executive committee through 2020 as past chair. The 2020 slate of officers are as follows:

Executive Committee

  • Chairman, Gregg Smith, CEO, Attila Security
  • Vice-Chair, Shelley Lombardo, COO, Evergreen Advisors
  • Past Chair, Gina Abate, president and CEO, Edwards Performance Solutions
  • Secretary, Darrell Laffoon, CTO, Sontiq
  • Assistant Secretary, Chris Sachse, CEO, Think|Stack
  • Treasurer, Jay Turakhia, senior vice president, SunTrust
  • Assistant Treasurer, Evan Dornbush, co-founder and CEO, Point3 Security
  • Legal Counsel, Joe Mezzanotte, partner, Whiteford | Taylor | Preston

Board Members

  • Linda Conrad, principal, corporate and information security risk management,       Exelon
  • Krysta Herring, director of asset management and leasing, COPT
  • John Leitch, president and CEO, Winquest Engineering
  • Tim Lorello, president and CEO, SecuLore Solutions
  • Christina Majernik, senior vice president, Client Solutions, Domain5
  • John Maroon, president, Maroon PR
  • Kent Malwitz, president, UMBC Training Centers
  • Kenneth McCreedy, senior director of cybersecurity and aerospace, Maryland  Commerce
  • Keith Moulsdale, partner, Whiteford Taylor Preston
  • Thomas Sadowski, vice chancellor for economic development, University System of Maryland
  • Mike Volk, vice president cyber risk solutions, PSA Insurance & Financial Services
  • Greg von Lehmen, special assistant to the president, cybersecurity, at the University of Maryland Global Campus
  • Michele Whelley, president and CEO, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore

The board is supported by the Advisory Council, which includes:

  • Pete Gouldmann, cybersecurity risk management, U. S. Government
  • John Agnello, chief, analytic capability development branch at United States CyberCommand
  • Chris Buzby, senior manager of corporate strategy, innovation and sustainability, Exelon
  • Linda Conrad, principal, corporate and information security risk management, Exelon
  • Matthew Dunlop, vice president, chief information security officer, Under Armour
  • Emma Garrison-Alexander, vice dean of cybersecurity and info assurance, University of Maryland Global Campus
  • Marcelle Lee, CEO and founding partner, Fractal Security Group

“CAMI continues to be a nationally unique organization with a mission of connecting Maryland’s cybersecurity companies with entities (commercial, government, academic and nonprofit) everywhere that need cybersecurity solutions,” said Smith. “In just three years, we have [more than] 500 cybersecurity technology and services companies and almost 50 general service providers associated with our organization as members. I look forward to growing the organization and creating a more cybersecure business environment in Maryland and beyond with the help of our board leadership, committees and many volunteers.”

Mayer/ Broccolino Cancer Resource Center holds ribbon-cutting at HCGH


Howard County General Hospital’s (HCGH) Claudia Mayer/Tina Broccolino Cancer Resource Center recently held a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the center’s new location: Suite 150 of the Little Patuxent Specialty Care Center at 11065 Little Patuxent Parkway on the HCGH campus in Columbia.

The center will continue to offer services to patients diagnosed with cancer and their families at the new location, including:

  • Social work, counseling and support group services provided free of charge
  • Integrative therapies and treatments
  • Salon offering professional hairstyling as well as wigs, head scarves, wraps and hats
  • Lending library and resource navigation services to help patients better understand     their diagnosis and treatment

Exelon Generation to negotiate acquisition of R.E. Ginna, Nine Mile Point and Calvert Cliffs


Exelon Generation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corp. (owner or BGE and Pepco), announced that Electricite de France (EDF) is exercising the put option to sell its 49.99 percent interest in the R.E. Ginna, Nine Mile Point and Calvert Cliffs nuclear energy facilities.

As Exelon has reported in its financial filings, the put option was established in connection with the joint operating services agreement signed by the two companies in April 2014 to enable Exelon Generation to take over operations at the three nuclear plants. Exelon Generation already is the majority owner and operator of the plants, which are in New York and Maryland. Exelon Generation’s purchase of EDF’s ownership interest will have no impact on plant operations or employees.

 As part of the acquisition process, EDF and Exelon Generation will seek a negotiated agreement on the sale price. If an agreement cannot be reached, the price will be set through a third-party arbitration process to determine fair market value. The transaction will require approval by the New York Public Service Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The process and regulatory approvals could take one to two years or more to complete.

 Exelon Generation would become the full 100 percent owner of the three zero-carbon nuclear energy facilities, which consist of the single-unit R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant (576 megawatts) and the dual-unit Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station (1,907 megawatts), both in upstate New York; and the dual-unit Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant (1,756 megawatts) in Maryland.

SuperShuttle ends BWI Marshall service


The SuperShuttle has ended service to and from BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, which the company attributes to “changes in our operational capacity.” The company still offers service to and from Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia and Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., according to its online reservation system.

The service shutdown is one of several announced by SuperShuttle, as the company ended operations in Minneapolis, Dallas and Sacramento International Airport on Dec. 2. The Los Angeles Times also recently reported that the SuperShuttle has suspended operations at Los Angeles International Airport and other California sites because it is out of compliance with state insurance requirements.

The SuperShuttle’s recognizable blue-and-yellow vans have been become a fixture at BWI Marshall since the company was founded 36 years ago. In the local market, it offered options that included a shared shuttle with various stops, non-stop private shuttles for groups and ExecuCar private service.  

The service has faced new competitors in recent years, especially as more travelers turn to ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft to reach the airport.

IronNet Cybersecurity announces growth plans in EMEA


Maple Lawn-based IronNet Cybersecurity, which operates in the Collective Defense and Network Traffic Analysis space, announced a major expansion and investment in the Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa market (known as EMEA) via a new partnership with U.K.-based managed security service provider ITC Secure.

 In addition, IronNet has established its EMEA headquarters in London, where it has appointed industry veteran Justin Coker as vice president of EMEA to lead its operations in the market.

 IronDome is a revolutionary way to defend against sophisticated and well-funded cyber adversaries by enabling organizations to join resources and envision impending potential threats to collectively defend against targeted attacks. The platform applies advanced behavioral analytics, AI and machine learning techniques to network traffic data and combines the tradecraft knowledge of the best offensive and defensive cyber operators in the world with world-class mathematicians and data scientists.

 Using IronNet’s IronDefense Network Traffic Analysis platform and the industry’s first and only real-time collective defense system, IronDome, ITC’s new managed service will be delivered and controlled by its security operations center. Through this global partnership, companies will be better positioned to proactively defend against sophisticated cyberthreats at scale.

 According to research and advisory company Gartner, information security and risk management end-user spending in the infrastructure protection segment within the enterprise market in EMEA is projected to reach $7.2 billion in 2023, reflecting 8.8 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Even greater growth in spending is anticipated in the security services segment. Gartner estimates that EMEA’s spending in this segment is projected to reach $31 billion in 2023, reflecting 7.2 percent CAGR.

 “Cyberwarfare doesn’t recognize geographical boundaries and neither does our mission at IronNet,” said Gen. (Ret.) Keith Alexander, IronNet chairman and co-CEO, as well as former Director of the U.S. National Security Agency and Founding Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command. “The joint offering with ITC will empower more companies to proactively defend against sophisticated cyber threats at scale. And having a strong leader like Justin Coker growing IronNet’s presence in Europe will help us meet more customers where they are in their unique cybersecurity defense needs.”


Vista Equity Partners acquires Sonatype


Sonatype, a Fulton-based company that scales DevOps through open source governance and software supply chain automation, has signed a definitive agreement to receive a majority investment from Vista Equity Partners, an investment firm focused on empowering and growing enterprise software, data and technology-enabled companies that are reinventing industries and catalyzing change.

Sonatype provides open source health and hygiene data called Nexus Intelligence. This data is aggregated from a vast number of public and private sources utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence. It is then curated with human expertise and infused into a suite of Nexus products. The partnership with Vista will allow Sonatype to further fast-track growth and enhance its Nexus product portfolio.

Sonatype has posted annual revenue growth close to 250 percent over the past three years. More than 60 of the Fortune 100 companies depend on Sonatype’s Nexus products and OSS solutions to automate the modern software supply chain, including eight of the top 10 U.S. and European banks, eight of the top 10 U.S. credit card companies, seven of the top 10 U.S. tech companies and four out of five U.S. Armed Forces.

“Open source tools are an invaluable resource that enable companies and developers to keep up with the demand to deliver software applications at a rapidly accelerating pace,” said Patrick Severson, Principal at Vista Equity Partners. “[Sonotype has] built an impressive business and an innovative portfolio of products that empower software development teams to continuously innovate responsibly and with the highest quality and most secure open source across every stage of the digital supply chain.”

Live! Casino & Hotel to open new venue


Live! Casino & Hotel hosted a hard hat tour of The Hall @ Live!, a new 75,000-square-foot, three-story multi-use concert and event venue that will feature some of the nation’s best touring acts, comedians, championship boxing and other show-stopping entertainment.

The Hall @ Live! is the largest theater in any casino in Maryland, as well as in Anne Arundel County. With a capacity of up to 4,800 persons, the state-of-the-art performance venue features three levels of seating: a main orchestra level, intimate loge-level boxes and a plush VIP Level with private bar, lounge and balcony.

The $10 million state-of-the-art audio and visual system provides absolute acoustic perfection combined with stunning visual displays. The built-in performance stage, surrounded by massive, high resolution LED screens, is 60 feet wide by 40 feet deep and, from a technological standpoint, rivals the largest and most advanced performance venues anywhere.

The new venue is seamlessly designed to connect to the casino floor and the AAA Four Diamond-rated luxury accommodations of Live! Hotel, making The Hall an option for corporate retreats, meetings, weddings and other celebrations due to its expansive 40,000-square-feet of customizable space and banquet seating for up to 1,600. The venue includes a large ballroom, 10 breakout rooms, expansive pre-function space and event theater.

The Hall will also become home to Anne Arundel County high school and college graduations, which will be hosted in the venue free of charge. In addition, local nonprofit and community organizations will have complimentary access to use the space for meeting, fundraisers and other events.

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