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TRF's Second Chances program in Maryland goes the Distance - Thoroughbred Retirement FoundationThoroughbred Retirement Foundation

TRF’s Second Chances program in Maryland goes the Distance

Submitted by Sarah Stein, TRF Second Chances program manager at Sykesville Correctional Facility, MD

Alex Wooten graduated from the six-month Second Chances Program in June, 2017. He continued to work at the farm as the head groom until he was released in mid-August after 20 years of incarceration. Within two weeks of his release, Alex had a job at Laurel Park Racetrack near Baltimore.

Allow a bit of background: at the end of July, the students at Second Chances took a field trip to Laurel Park. They were given a tour by Major Michael Singletary who is head of Security for the Maryland Jockey Club. Along with a thorough tour of the whole racetrack, Maj. Singletary also explained to the students what kinds of job opportunities existed at Laurel Park. He offered suggestions on how the guys can apply for jobs and housing at the track. Alex was apparently listening very carefully as he was immediately in contact with Maj. Singletary and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association. The MTHA helped Alex get housing and a job.

Alex currently works as a groom at Laurel Park for a trainer named Ron Moquett, who finished second to eventual 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park with Far Right. Alex grooms at least three horses a day, and will soon to be up to six horses a day. Alex works from 5 a.m.-11:30 a.m., and sometimes brings horses to and from the track the afternoon’s races.

When he is not running horses, Alex works for one of the feed companies that delivers to the track and helps unload hay in the afternoons.
“Bobby Lillis, who works for MTHA, says that Alex is polite, hard-working, and always thinksof ways to help others. Alex even appeared before the board of MTHA to pitch a new idea: he would like to replicate the idea of the Second Chances Program at the racetrack, working with active racehorses. He believes that the structure of the track and the lessons to be learned by the horses make it a good environment for certain inmates.

Bobby Lillis is so impressed that he has already asked us to send them future Second Chances graduates. Alex Wooten has given us all hope because he has found so much success.

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