The Maryland Horse Breeders Association membership has selected one incumbent, one returning and three new members to the 2022 Board of Directors.
Dictated by MHBA bylaws, the annually held election fills five open seats on the board. Those elected will serve for the next three years. Returning to the board are Michael Horning, current secretary-treasurer of the MHBA who was first elected in 2019, and Kent A. Murray, the MHBA secretary-treasurer from 2018 to 2020 who had served six consecutive years from 2015 to 2020 and was back on the ballot this year. Joining the board for the first time are Amy Burk, Grace Merryman and Gina Robb.
Amy O. Burk – Coordinator of the University of Maryland’s Equine Studies Program since 2001, including overseeing a Thoroughbred breeding program from 2014-2019, Burk has a Ph.D. in equine nutrition and has taught Equine Reproductive Management at UMD since 2018. Many of her more than 100 students in equine reproductive management are now employed at breeding farms or as veterinarians. The Howard County resident, a governor appointee to the Maryland Horse Industry Board and past board member of the Maryland Horse Council and Equine Science Society, looks to “foster recruitment and retention of youth in the breeding industry, to enhance workforce development opportunities, and to improve quality and management of horses bred through education.”
Michael F. Horning – The current secretary-treasurer of the MHBA as well as the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Horning is a retired insurance executive from Potomac (Montgomery County) who has bred and owned numerous Maryland-bred stakes winners with his wife Debbie. His plans are to continue to “promote the Maryland horse breeding industry and encourage new participation in the sport. . . to work to maintain the revenue stream from VLTs and ensure stability of the Bred Fund that is critical to the breeding industry in the state. . . and assist MHBA to optimize its financial position and investment portfolio to enhance its resources.”
Grace Merryman – Owner of Anchor & Hope Farm in Cecil County with her husband Louis Merryman since 2016, where they stand four stallions, Merryman graduated with an Animal Science degree from the University of Delaware and worked for nearly a decade at Walnut Green Farm in Pennsylvania . Breeder of juvenile stakes winner and graded stakes-placed Raging Whiskey (by home stallion Bourbon Courage) and breeder/owner of 2021 stakes winner Exculpatory, Merryman notes she brings a unique perspective of the Maryland industry. “I own regional stallions and breed to them for both breed-to-race and breed-to-sell, plus I have a Kentucky-sired horse currently in training. I can appreciate the benefits and challenges of the current policies and programs within Maryland racing. I look forward to continuing on with the traditions and focusing on ways to better the industry as a whole.”
Kent Allen Murray – A program manager for Northrop Grumman Corporation, Murray has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s in business administration. He grew up on his family’s Murmur Farm in Darlington and performed all duties associated with farm life. Murray continues to be a consultant and account manager for the farm owned by his mother Audrey Murray, which stands one of the state’s leading sires, Blofeld. He also owns, with his wife Donna, Twin Oaks Farm, a horse boarding facility in Aberdeen (Harford County). Murray wants to “represent Thoroughbred horse breeders and owners from Maryland by encouraging new thoughts, listening to input, and acting in the best interest of the members.”
Gina Robb – The owner of No Guts No Glory Farm in Woodbine (Howard County) since 2017, Robb has had a varied career in the industry, having worked in Thoroughbred sales, as an assistant trainer, and as a former television racing analyst. With her husband de ella, trainer John Robb, she has bred and campaigned a number of stakes horses, led by the durable and speedy 11-time stakes winner Anna’s Bandit.
Of the five directors whose terms expired this year, Richard F. Blue Jr., Louis Merryman and Sabrina Moore were ineligible to stand for reelection because of having served six consecutive years as a member of the MHBA Board. Those whose terms have not expired are George Adams, Ellen M. Charles, Michael D. Golden DVM, Michael J. Harrison DVM, Christy Holden, Ann B. Jackson, A. Leonard Pineau VMD, William Reightler, Thomas J. Rooney and Adair B. Stifel.
The MHBA’s Annual General Membership meeting will be held Wednesday, June 29, starting at 12 pm in the Vista Room at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. The meeting agenda includes a presentation by Ned Worthington, Valleys Planning Council Executive Committee Member, on The Equine Legacy Area.