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At The Races - Trejo has filled many roles in career

July 20, 2008|By Larry Yanos

Thoroughbred racing official Ismael "Izzy" Trejo said the roles of a state steward and a racing secretary are challenging, yet different.

Trejo is in his second year as racing secretary at Delaware Park Racetrack following four years as a West Virginia state steward at Charles Town Races & Slots.

"Stewards, they wait for things to happen. A racing secretary, we have to make things happen," Trejo said when comparing the two positions.

Trejo has enjoyed life as a racing official.

He was the entry clerk and stakes coordinator at Delaware Park before accepting the stewards' job at Charles Town in 2003. Four years later, he was asked to return to Delaware Park as the racing secretary and accepted.

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"It's a challenge," Trejo said of his current position. "It's a daily project to try to complete a race card. We have a lot of competition in the Mid-Atlantic region and we try to keep the purses attractive enough here to keep the horsemen from shipping elsewhere."

Trejo said Delaware Park offers an average of $220,000 per day in purses, but neighboring jurisdictions in the region compete for those same horses.

"Filling cards was especially tough earlier in the season, but we've been doing better lately," Trejo said. "Our main competition now is Philadelphia Park, Monmouth Park and the Maryland tracks."

Although the Maryland thoroughbred racing season is quiet, Trejo says many owners and trainers from the Free State ship their horses to Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va. (near Richmond) - giving them an opportunity to compete on the outstanding turf course.

"We lose some of those type horses, they are going south instead of coming north," Trejo said.

Philadelphia Park, about 50 miles away, is grabbing more horses because of an attractive purse structure - thanks to the advent of slot machines in the Keystone State.

Trejo's toughest job right now?

"Building confidence in the horsemen. We want to keep them here," Trejo said. "We have a good racing surface and we often run two turf races per card. We have around 2,400 horses stabled at Delaware Park and we have 24 new trainers here this year. It's a great facility."

In the offseason, Trejo and track announcer John Curran traveled to Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, The Fairgrounds in New Orleans and Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., talking to owners and trainers - encouraging them to give Delaware Park a try.

Although he likes his current position, Trejo still has fond memories of Charles Town.

"I enjoyed my four years there," Trejo said. "Working with Danny (Wright) and Bobby (Lotts) was fun. With the hearings and the day-to-day assignments in the mornings and then the races at night - we spent a lot of time with each other. I loved the people at Charles Town."

Trejo worked as an entry clerk for six years at Delaware Park and also spent parts of the winter months at Turf Paradise in Arizona before going to Charles Town.

Laurel Park meet

Dates for the Laurel Park summer meeting have been approved by the Maryland State Racing Commission.

After an eight-week break, live racing will return to Maryland on Aug. 8. The 10-day summer meeting will include twilight racing (3:30 p.m. post time) on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The meet will include a pair of $50,000 state-bred stakes races for 3-year-olds: The Twixt Stakes (Aug. 9) and Humphrey S. Finney (Aug. 16).

First post for the weekend dates is 1:10 p.m. and Laurel Park will offer free admission.

At the conclusion of the stand, live racing shifts to Timonium for the seven-day state fair meet. The 17-week Laurel Park fall meeting begins after the Labor Day holiday.

Pony tales

* Luke Kruytbosch, who called the last 10 runnings of the Kentucky Derby as the regular race caller at Churchill Downs, died last Monday in Evansville, Ind. He was 45.

According to the Thoroughbred Times, Don Erk of the Vanderburgh County coroner's office said Kruytbosch died naturally - most likely from a heart attack.

The funeral will be held Monday at Churchill Downs' paddock garden.

Kruytbosch was the fifth announcer in the 134-year history of Churchill Downs, starting there in 1999.

Larry Yanos is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He writes a weekly horse racing column. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at larryy@herald-mail.com.

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