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 Features

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Anyone casually scanning the entries for a day of racing in Maryland may notice more female trainers compared to other tracks.

Mary Hirsch broke ground by becoming the first licensed woman trainer in the country in 1936, and Jena Antonucci made headlines by saddling last year’s 3-year-old champion Arcangelo, but still they are something of a rarity. 

Last year, only three of the country’s top 50 trainers by earnings, and just six of the top 100, were women.

Maryland is different. Ten of the top 50 trainers by earnings at the Laurel Park fall meet are women: Brittany Russell (first), Lacey Gaudet (sixth), Keri Brion (20th), Diane Morici (24th), Joanne Shankle (28th), Lizzie Merryman (34th), Jane Cibelli (35th), Linda Albert (37th), Annette Eubanks (44th) and Susan Cooney (46th). In addition, women filled 23 of the top 100 places, a contrast from Aqueduct (13 in the top 100), Churchill Downs (10) and Del Mar (seven).

Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred caught up with some of Maryland’s most prominent women trainers to discuss their backgrounds, operations and successes.

Brittany Russell

Brittany Russell has become so indomitable, it’s difficult to imagine Maryland racing without her. Yet, she’s only been training on her own since 2018, and didn’t cross the $1 million mark in seasonal earnings until 2020. 

In a short time, Russell has made a large mark. She captured the 2023 Maryland training title with 119 wins, becoming the first woman to do so, and finished 11th in the country with 177 wins. She and the New York-based Linda Rice were the only women to surpass the century mark.

“It means a lot. I wake up every day, and just try to do the best job I can,” Russell said of the success. “To see the progression into what we’ve accomplished, it’s amazing, and in such a short time too.”

Russell gives plenty of credit to her team, led by Luis Barajas, who manages her Laurel string; Emma Wolfe, who oversees Fair Hill Training Center operations and Sam Hopkins at Palm Meadows in Florida. 

“I say ‘we’ because it’s not just me; yes, my name goes down in history as the first woman to do this in Maryland, but it wasn’t just me, it was everyone behind me,” she said. “It took a village to accomplish this.”

Russell, from Peach Bottom, Pa., did not grow up around horses. Her interest was piqued by a middle-school field trip to Ronnie and Betsy Houghton’s Sylmar Farm in Christiana. The Houghtons’ daughter, Wendy Kinnamon, ran a nearby farm and Russell soon got her first job there. 

“I was just a kid, cleaning stalls, doing the dirty work in the barn, helping turn horses out, just getting experience,” said Russell, then Trimble. “They got me on some of their yearlings and I broke a lot of babies, and from there, it stuck. That was pretty much the place I was raised. I spent every moment I could that I wasn’t at school at that farm.”

Kinnamon client Tim Ritchey hired Russell as an exercise rider and she became an assistant trainer. She moved on to jobs with Ron Moquett, Jimmy Jerkens, Jonathan Sheppard and Brad Cox.

“I feel like I took a little something from each of them in my back pocket,” she said. “You never know when you’re going to bring it out,” she said. “They all train very differently.” 

She considered Cox’s confidence his best quality. “He just knew what he had, and he was good at placement. You have to run these horses where they can win, and his level of care was so high.”

Russell bounced around for several years, to Kentucky, New York, Arkansas and Louisiana. She occasionally rode in amateur jockey races in the Mid-Atlantic, winning one in 2012 and another in 2017. She returned to the region to manage a string for Moquett at Laurel and, thanks to some encouragement from Moquett client Peter Blum, Russell launched her own stable. On Feb. 25, 2018, at Laurel, she sent out her first starter – and winner – Oh My. 

Blum and Russell parted ways not long afterward, and she was soon down to just a few horses, many owned by former Cox client Mike Ryan. However, in late 2018, Russell got her break when she and Jodi Quinn spent $6,500 on a filly at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic December mixed sale. The daughter of Golden Lad went to Sheppard for prep work. The reviews were impressive.

“This is one of the smartest horses I’ve ever been around,” Sheppard assistant Brion told her friend. “She was born ready for what’s next. We’ll get some miles into her, but you can take her on to the track whenever you want.”

That filly, Hello Beautiful, went on to win eight stakes, including three consecutive Maryland Million races, be named champion Maryland-bred older female of 2021 and earn $587,820. A partnership led by Madaket Racing bought into her after her maiden win, and the connections helped Russell land more quality horses and high-profile clients.

“You can be down in this game, but I think you’ve got to look at what’s next, because if something down happens today, hopefully there’s a reason for it, right?” Russell said. 

More milestones followed. In 2021, she won her first graded stakes when Wondrwherecraigis took the Grade 3 Bold Ruler at Belmont Park. In 2022, she won 100 races in a season for the first time. Last April, she won her first Grade 1, when Doppelganger captured the Carter at Aqueduct. Doppelganger was the first horse Russell trained for the SF Racing/Starlight Racing partnership. She now has several, including up-and-coming 3-year-old Mission Beach.

“He was a classy horse, awesome horse,” said Russell of Doppelganger, who stands at stud in Florida. “Everything about him was a pleasure. He knew his job, he trained good, he just, you know, he showed off on race day for us, just a classy animal." 

Russell has learned how to handle training a big stable of good horses on the fly. 

“It’s hard work, it’s 24/7, my phone never stops,” she said. “I have to have good crews in each place, because if I’m at Fair Hill one day, Laurel has to keep running and vice versa. I didn’t see it coming. You have to ride the wave. You have to take it as it comes. You have to handle it. There have been some growing pains, but I feel like we’ve done a good job with it, and you have to hope the quality of horse keeps on coming and we can keep it going.”

One of Brittany’s biggest assets is her husband, longtime Maryland jockey Sheldon Russell. The two met during Brittany’s first stint in the Mid-Atlantic, were married in 2018 and have two children, Edy and Rye. Sheldon gets on many of Brittany’s horses in the morning, and she values his feedback.

“Sheldon is really good in the morning, he gets a really good feel for the horse, and he knows my clients, what they expect, and what they want,” said Brittany. “He knows how a horse feels, he can usually give me a pretty good read. Not everyone is right all the time, but the feedback from Sheldon is very important.”

That morning work came in handy in the afternoon Jan. 28, when he rode Post Time in the Jennings at Laurel. The gray 4-year-old Maryland-bred, owned by Hillwood Stable, won by 6 ½ lengths while barely being asked. 

“You see how long he held onto him in the stretch when he rode him?” said Brittany. “Now that he knows him, that’s how he wants to travel. I think it was just a little bit of education and experience and now he and Sheldon have a good relationship and I think that means something.

“All wins are extra special, but this one was extra-special,” Brittany said. “He was such a class act that day. He never put a foot wrong. He went right to the starting gate, he ran like a pro. There are a lot of fun decisions to be made.”

At the start of his career, Post Time raced greenly in the stretch. He’s settled down in the afternoon, and ran straight in the Jennings, though he’s still a character while training. 

“He’s still a wild animal in the morning, he’s a playful horse, not a bad guy,” Russell said. “He’s really kind of channeled his energy in the right direction if you will. He’s a horse with so much personality, and I feel like you just can’t take it away from him. You’ve just got to let him shine.”

Russell looks forward to 2024, and advises those looking to break into the business to keep good company. 

“Be around the right people and be ready to work hard,” she said. “Be ready to put your head down and learn. I still learn something new every day. The horses and this game and dealing with people and everything that we have to deal with day to day, you just have to be very open-minded and ready to learn.”

Lacey Gaudet

Anyone paying even cursory attention to Laurel toward the end of 2023 noticed that Lacey Gaudet’s horses found the winner’s circle – a lot. She went 13-for-25 in December, including three wins Dec. 31. This year started in much the same way, going 4-for-8 in January.

Gaudet attributed the hot streak to timing. When turf season ended in mid-November, opportunities opened for her dirt-heavy stable.

“We did not have any turf horses this year. I turned one horse out when turf season ended,” said Gaudet. “We were sitting on a lot of dirt horses, a lot of conditioned horses, and when we got through the first part of November and there was no more turf racing, the races just set up really, really nicely for the majority of our stable, even as far as the way the conditions came up and the distances that were ideal for them. It made me look really good.”

Among Gaudet’s winners was hard-knocking Oxide, a “house horse” racing in the Team Gaudet silks, who won back-to-back races Dec. 29 and Jan. 13, and Full Irish, who impressed with a first-level allowance victory Jan. 14.

Oxide found his way into Gaudet’s barn in the fall of 2020, and the Maryland-bred 7-year-old has drifted in and out ever since – getting claimed away (and claimed back) twice each. 

“He’s definitely a barn favorite,” said Gaudet. “He’s a lovely horse to be around and always tries hard. He’s not good all the time, but when he’s good, he’s very, very good, and I think that’s where he is right now, so we have a lot of fun with him.”

Full Irish, meanwhile, broke his maiden second off a nine-month layoff Dec. 17, but has since become a Maryland-bred to watch. 

“As a younger horse, he had a recurring injury that surgeons and doctors were pretty positive he’d grow out of,” said Gaudet. “I give his owner, Phil Squire, a lot of credit for being so patient. Everything happens for a reason, and maybe he wouldn’t have been the horse I think he’s going to be if he got over there as a 2- and 3-year-old. As he gets older, hopefully he will hold together longer and be an actual really nice horse for this year.”

Full Irish brings more than ability to the equation.

“He’s a funny horse to be around, he’s got a great personality, and if you see him, he looks great, he’s really matured and blossomed, but he’s just a really laid-back horse,” Gaudet said. “All of our riders would get on him, and nobody would really see his potential until he would breeze. He really turns his game face on when it comes to a work, but he’s like a bad teenager. He’s just a little punk in the barn, and he definitely has an attitude. As soon as he’s going the right direction around the racetrack, he’s all business.”

The Gaudet name is familiar to any Maryland racing fan. Lacey’s father, Eddie, trained for more than 50 years and saddled more than 1,700 winners. Lacey’s mother, Linda, was his main assistant. Growing up on her family’s Schelford North Farm in Upper Marlboro, Md., Gaudet was ensconced in the horse lifestyle from a young age. She helped her parents around the barn and began galloping horses at 15. When her plans to become a jockey were dashed due to a growth spurt, Gaudet pursued a training career, starting as an assistant to Helen Pitts in 2007.

Pitts’ staff was predominantly female, and Gaudet enjoyed working in that environment. She lived with Pitts and exercise rider Lorna Chavez.

“They showed me not only horsemanship, but growing up and being a woman in a tough sport,” Gaudet said. “Obviously, since we’re writing this article, it’s not a male-dominated sport anymore, but any business you’re in, there’s still going to be an unlevel playing field. Helen and Lorna really taught me how to stand up for myself, speak for myself, and really, honestly, not care too much. 

“I’ve been asked in different articles if I ever felt slighted or that you didn’t get an opportunity that a man did, and my answer is always, ‘No.’ Maybe I was approached differently or treated a little bit differently, but I think working with strong women showed me that it really doesn’t matter that much, because at the end of the day, you’re going to find your people, whether it’s people that want to work with a woman or employ a woman at the head of the table. If it doesn’t work for them, then it’s not a partnership worth starting. But I never felt that was an issue, because I’ve been around a bunch of strong women.”

Gaudet went on to work for Tom Albertrani and Allen Iwinski, before returning home to help her in her father’s barn. Eddie retired in 2011 and, at first, horses raced in Linda and Lacey’s names separately. Ultimately, they combined forces and talents. Lacey was determined to prove herself as a trainer and dispel notions of nepotism. 

“Growing up, I did get that statement or the comment a lot that, because of my name, that my father came before me, that I would have things handed to me,” Lacey said. “Anybody that knows my father and knows my family, knows that to not be true. There are a lot of trainers with children who come up in the game. I think the parents are harder on them. There’s an expectation that they want from their child.”

With Linda as her top assistant, Gaudet’s 30-strong barn at Laurel has flourished. She first eclipsed the $1 million mark in earnings in 2018, and has since surpassed it four times, including in 2023. 

Last year brought a major life event for Gaudet off the track when her son, Sebastian, was born in July. Gaudet says his arrival gave her a new perspective. 

“It’s helped me a lot to relax and not stress about so much of the work issues,” she said. “When you have a family, sometimes there are other issues that are the day-to-day absolute grind. Obviously, work is important, but the grind of it and holding all those issues when you come home at the end of the day [isn’t productive], so I think having a child has really mellowed me out, chilled me out, and let me sit back and see things in a different way.”

Sebastian has quickly become enamored with horses. 

“He loves the horses, he loves being out there, even this morning, it was a nice day, I put the little hat on his head and he was sitting on the rail watching the horses train with me and everyone’s like, ‘He’s actually watching them train, isn’t he?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, he’s fascinated with it.’ So that part has been a lot easier than anticipated.”

Gaudet’s advice to those looking to make a career in the sport: “Just keep going. If one shoe doesn’t fit, try something else. We have a lot of people who come into our operation who want to be a jockey, and they’re better off being an assistant, or a trainer, or a bloodstock agent. There are so many different avenues in horse racing, if you like horses and you like the business, just stay around it, stay committed, and just keep going, and you’ll find your fit.”

Keri Brion

Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, a conditioner of 11 Eclipse Award winners, was known for his equal prowess with flat and steeplechase runners. He trained steeplechase greats such Flatterer, Cafe Prince and Divine Fortune, while also training the likes of Forever Together, With Anticipation, Storm Cat and Informed Decision on the flat. 

It’s only fitting that his last assistant, Keri Brion, also developed a reputation as a dual-purpose trainer. Brion launched her career upon Sheppard’s retirement in 2020, and became one of the country’s top steeplechase trainers. Over the past few years, she spread her wings with flat runners, going 7-for-32 at the Laurel fall meet. 

Like Russell, the Kirkwood, Pa., native started at Sylmar Farm at age 10. 

“I rode show horses and stuff as I was growing up, but my first job with Ronnie and Betsy was my first real intro to racing,” said Brion. “I worked there for about 10 years, and they taught me how to gallop, and I did a little bit of pony racing.”

Home on break from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she was on a track scholarship, Brion learned that Sheppard’s operation had an opening. She started as an exercise rider and worked her way up to assistant and won six races as a steeplechase jockey.

“I really learned to treat them all like individuals and like horses,” said Brion of her time with Sheppard, who died in 2023. “All mine get turned out like he used to, and I’m getting a reputation of getting difficult horses to the races, bad actors and whatnot, and that’s what he was so good at, just getting inside horses’ heads.”

When Sheppard retired, several owners, including Irv Naylor and Rod and Alice Moorhead’s Buttonwood Farm, stuck with Brion. Their loyalty paid dividends. Brion started 2021 in Ireland, making history as the first American trainer to win a jump race in that country with a maiden hurdle score by The Mean Queen (Ire) in April. In the United States a month later, The Mean Queen launched the Brion stable o new heights with five wins in six starts – including three Grade 1 stakes – en route to an Eclipse Award as champion steeplechaser for Buttonwood.

“They bought her off my recommendation, which was really cool,” said Brion. “We brought her here, and the rest is history. She was not easy to deal with, she was very temperamental, very difficult to train, just because she liked to train so much, she was very hard on herself. What she did on the track proved herself.”

Brion finished third in the National Steeplechase Association standings in 2021, with 13 wins and $763,450.

In 2022, she ascended to greater heights, winning 42 races with $1.5 million earnings (flat and jump). Brion credits The Mean Queen with plenty: “She helped put my name on the map. Even though it was over jumps, she was winning at Saratoga and everyone was following her, because of her name, and the fact that she was a girl beating the boys. I probably owe a lot of my career to her.”

Over time, flat horses have become 70 percent of Brion’s stable. In 2021, she won a single flat race. Last year, she won 21.

“That’s where the money is, and in order to make a living, I need to build off the flat horses,” she said. “I started off with the reputation as just the jumps trainer, which is fine, but it doesn’t really get you flat horses. The jumpers are awesome, and I’ll always do it, but at this stage, I just want to be on the top tier with top tier horses that can compete at Saratoga and stuff like that.”

First-time starter Rumint broke her maiden going 6 furlongs on dirt at Aqueduct Jan. 14, and Brion would like to use such horses as a springboard to broaden her reach. 

“It’s been on my agenda to get more dirt horses,” she said, “[It’s good to] prove you can train any kind of horse so hopefully, as you get more dirt winners and prove that, those types of horses come into your barn and you can go forward from there.”

Brion’s main base is Fair Hill, with a string at Palm Meadows in Florida. She also keeps a stable at Delaware Park in the summer. She loves Fair Hill, citing its hills and fields as training options to the dirt and Tapeta tracks. 

“You can almost train European-style out back, so I get that kind of base in my horses, and I think we use that to our advantage,” she said. “The flat horses go out there as well as the jumpers, so it’s something different, and it helps their mindset. I’ve had horses that literally won’t train on a racetrack, and I can get them to the races training them out back, so it’s a great place to be.” 

Despite her success at Laurel, 2023 was challenging. Her horses struggled in the first half of the season, including a 38-start winless stretch in June and July, and she was provisionally suspended by the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit in October after a horse allegedly tested positive for cocaine. A month later, HIWU lifted the suspensions and dropped the cases against Brion and other trainers in similar situations while also announcing new testing procedures. 

Brion finished with 28 total wins, down from 42 in 2023 while increasing her starts from 207 to 324. The results improved toward the end and the trainer won with three of her first 12 starters in 2024. 

Brion’s advice to a young horseperson: “It is extremely hard work, so be ready for that. It’s not easy at all, I don’t think too much about the woman thing, but I would say yes, we obviously have to prove ourselves a bit more at times. Obviously, there have been great trainers paving the way who have helped us, but it’s just extremely hard work and you have to be so committed. You eat, sleep, and breathe this, and you really don’t have much of another life, so just work hard.”

Diane Morici

A newcomer to Maryland racing, Diane Morici made an impact at the Laurel fall meet after Delaware Park’s season ended. She saddled her first winner of the season Oct. 21, and doubled Dec. 17 when stable stars Jeopardy James and Ms. Bucchero won.

It was a strong performance, considering she lives in Boca Raton, Fla, and runs the stable from afar. The Chicago native got her start with show horses. When she was 17, she began galloping at Arlington Park, and spent many years as an assistant for top Midwestern trainers, most prominently Dallas Stewart, whom Morici considers a father figure. 

“I was with him for 10 to 12 years,” said Morici. “He and his wife, his family, they’ve been good to me. I’m 45, I’ve known them since I was 18. They’re good people.”

Morici launched her own string in 2009. While working for David Jacobson, she shipped some of his horses to Florida, and was approached by Vincent Mansour, a former Jacobson owner, about training herself. Morici took advantage and won her first race in May 2009 at Delaware Park. Not long after, she won her first graded stakes, the 2009 Brooklyn Handicap-G2, with Eldaafer.

Morici recalled a phone call from Mansour after he claimed Eldaafer for $20,000 at Aqueduct in January. 

“I claimed my Breeders’ Cup horse,” the owner said 

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” Morici replied. “For $20,000? OK, sure you did.”

Eldaafer won two of four for John Toscano Jr., joined Morici at Delaware Park and won the Brooklyn in his first start for the trainer. A year and a half later, Eldaafer made it a claim for the ages when he won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon-G3. It was one of five stakes wins in his career, in which he earned $1,031,835 in 46 starts. 

“He was kind of a difficult horse to train,” Morici said. “You had to let him think he was winning, you know, kind of outthink him.” 

After several years in Florida, Morici sent her string to the Mid-Atlantic in the summer of 2023, and stuck around after Delaware’s season ended. 

“The money, it’s better up here. Laurel’s money was actually pretty good, and it seemed like races weren’t going [in Florida],” she said. “It was nice being in one spot for 10 years, but when races don’t go, you can’t go anywhere, you’re stuck, but finally we made the move and sent everything up there.”

Morici likes the variety of the Mid-Atlantic region, and called it a good fit for her 36-strong stable. “Just the options,” she said. “You have all these tracks to ship from.”

She’s not there in person most of the time, but talks with assistant Colton Moore on the phone as many as 10 times a day. 

“He’s been with us about a year, and he’s been the glue,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a better crew right now. My guys are working hard, I know it’s not easy to deal with the weather, but you know, Colton’s been my rock since I’ve been up there.”

Morici spent more time at Delaware over the summer, but with the holidays, and the adverse weather in the Mid-Atlantic in January, she hasn’t spent as much time at Laurel this winter. Still, she had complete trust in Colton and her staff. 

“You’ve just got to trust your staff, and I think they’re doing a good job,” she said. “If I wasn’t there two days a week at Delaware, I was there three to four weeks at a time, but they know the drill, you don’t have to check on them. We do the set list every day, you know, communication, that’s all. People don’t understand how important they are. If it wasn’t for these guys, they’re up 24/7 with these horses, they love and care for these animals.”

To anyone looking to get into the industry, Morici offered a similar refrain: “Just keep pushing forward. There are always ups and downs and the downs can get you real down, like when a horse gets hurt, you know, but every day you’ve got to walk in, feed ’em, and take care of ’em. Mentally it’s hard, but every time you try to get away from them, they always bring you back if you love them.”

Katy Voss

She didn’t make the top 50 in 2023, but Katy Voss was training before many of her peers were born and has held a wide variety of roles in racing. 

She has trained for more than 50 years, bred horses at her Chanceland Farm for more than 40 (with partner Bob Manfuso until his 2020 passing). She served as the Maryland Horse Breeders Assocation president from 1985-87, and was instrumental in the creation of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. She was recently elected president of the MTHA, becoming the first woman to hold that position.

The oldest of six children born to John and Kitty Merryman, Voss had a pedigree well-suited for a career with horses. Her grandfather, Louis, co-founded the MHBA in 1929, and John would go on to serve as president. Four of Voss’ five siblings – Ann, Edwin, Frances and Lizzie Merryman – also became trainers. Voss, who grew up working with horses at her parents’ farm, the Orebanks, in Sparks, Md. started almost by accident.

“We had a few cheap claimers, and back in those days, we didn’t race in Maryland in the summer, so our trainer took our horses to Monmouth,” she said. “We had some babies on the farm, some horses that needed to get to the racetrack, and we only had stalls for the runners at Monmouth, so my sister and I took five horses to Marlboro, since it was the only track in Maryland open for training in the summer.” 

Upon the return of the string from Monmouth, their trainer resigned, leaving Voss in charge. The horses initially raced in her father’s name. She began training under her own name in 1972.

Not long after graduating from Goucher College in Towson with a math degree, training horses all the while, she began training the horse that would make her a prominent name in Maryland racing, Twixt. Bred by her parents, who co-owned her with Emily Franklin, Twixt won 18 stakes in her career and was named a Maryland-bred champion each year she raced, including Maryland-bred Horse of the Year in 1973 and 1974. In 1975, she won the Top Flight Handicap-G1 at Aqueduct, Voss’ first Grade 1 win.

“If I hadn’t had Twixt, I probably would’ve gone on to some other career,” said Voss. “She took me all over the country, she got me name recognition.” 

Not unlike how Brittany Russell trains for national owners in Maryland today, Voss’ stable in the late 1970s and early 1980s featured horses owned by the likes of Paul Robsham, Robert “Shel” Evans, John Franks and Dogwood Stable.

Voss has won 868 races, with earnings of $16,795,458 through Feb. 6. She won four races in 1972, and rolled it all the way up to 48 in 1996. Smaller these days, the stable has included prominent Maryland-breds Due North, Smart ’n Quick, Wood So and others. Most recently, she sent out Bay Street to victory in a first-level allowance at Laurel Jan. 28, for her first victory, and starter, of 2024. 

Though Voss acknowledges her success with Twixt may have inspired skeptical owners to give other female trainers a chance, she wouldn’t consider herself a pioneer or trailblazer. 

“I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it,” she said. “To me, it’s never really been a big deal. There have always been other women on the backstretch. Some people would make comments, but there were never any really big issues. I’ve never experienced any real personal thing from anybody toward me because I’m a woman.”

In the early 1980s, Voss branched into breeding. 

“When Bob and I got together, his father had a farm and bred a lot of horses,” Voss said. “We started doing more breeding and founded Chanceland Farm. Most of the mares were Bob’s; I owned pieces of them. We were breeding commercially, and racing the horses that didn’t sell, and it went on like that for a long time.” 

Voss and Manfuso bred 2021 Breeders’ Cup Sprint-G1 winner Aloha West and Maryland fan favorite Cordmaker, a millionaire and Grade 3 winner. Manfuso bred seven Maryland Million winners, five in partnership with Voss. 

Voss continues to breed horses at Chanceland in West Friendship, Md., about 23 miles north of Laurel. Breeding and training at the same time might seem an arduous task, but Voss has the routine down. 

“We’ve always had good farm managers, so it’s more checking in and making sure everything’s going all right,” said Voss. “It involves watching and supervising the horses going in the training barn, but I’ve got help that does all that. I go to the racetrack every morning, and go to the farm late morning, and we use riders from the racetrack at the farm, so we don’t start training until then. Once you get all the mares mated, you don’t have to worry about that again until next fall, then you have the yearling show and sales prep all summer. We break our yearlings before the sale, so that keeps us busy. I’m busy all day, but I’ve got good help.”

Having accomplished so much, Voss, who has had plenty of experience in leadership and political arenas, looks forward to her new role with the MTHA at a pivotal time. 

“If we weren’t in the situation that we’re in, I might not have agreed to do it, but I think the next couple of years are going to be critical to the future of Maryland racing,” she said. “I’ve been involved with some of the minutiae of the planning, like the design of the barns and things like that, and there are critical things I think need to be addressed in the development that will have major effects on the future of racing in Maryland. I’m looking forward to being involved and helping make that happen, and making sure that it’s done right.”

As far as her training operation is concerned, Voss plans on expanding her training stable this year, with a few homebred 2-year-olds who didn’t sell in 2023 coming on board. 

“I always would like to train more, and I decided, ‘I’m not going to give these horses away,’ ” she said. “Unless you have a significant Kentucky stallion, the market for Maryland-breds has declined significantly. Going forward, there’s not going to be a market for the horses that we race here every day. For Maryland racing to be successful, people will have to breed to race. If they don’t want to pay me for them, we’ll go ahead and race them. So, we’re going to have more horses to run this year.”

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