ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Horse Industry Board — a program within the Maryland Department of Agriculture — presented its Touch of Class Award to the executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, Michael Hopkins. The award was presented at the 2018 Jim McKay Maryland Million Day on Oct. 20. Hopkins received the award for being the first Marylander named Chair of the Association of Racing Commissioners International.
“The equine community is an important part of Maryland’s rural heritage and the same is true for the horse racing industry,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “This is due in large part to the continued commitment and passion of people like Mike Hopkins. He has done an excellent job in his role as executive director of the Racing Commission, and we are proud to see him representing our state in the ARCI. This award is well deserved.”
“Mike Hopkins is an asset to, not only the Maryland Racing Commission, but to the entirety of the Maryland horse racing industry,” said Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “His commitment to integrity in the sport and equine welfare is strengthened by his years of experience, bringing a singular perspective to horse racing in Maryland. We are extremely proud of Mike, and applaud his achievement with this award.”
Hopkins has been executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission for 18 years. Under his direction, the commission oversees and regulates both the harness and thoroughbred horse racing industry in Maryland. He has served on ARCI’s Board of Directors for the last five years. ARCI is the umbrella organization of the official governing rule-making bodies for professional horse and greyhound racing in North America and parts of the Caribbean. In addition to his role as chair, he also serves on five committees for ARCI, including: the Executive Committee, Drug Testing Standards and Practices, Equine Safety Committee, Model Rules and Standardbred Racing.
The Touch of Class Award is presented monthly by the Maryland Horse Industry Board to honor Maryland horses, individuals, teams, organizations or events that demonstrate national or international excellence. The award is named after Touch of Class, a Maryland Thoroughbred mare who won two Olympic show jumping gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and is honored at the U.S. Show Jumping Hall of Fame. Like this mare, the award is emblematic of achieving excellence in the equine industry.
More than 200 Marylanders and more than 100 of their horses have received the Touch of Class Award in 28 different equestrian disciplines, including national and international champions in jousting, polo, steeplechase, mounted games, barrel racing, hunter breeding and three-day eventing. Previous Thoroughbred racing winners include Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion and Eclipse Award winners Joe Clancy (for equine journalism) and Scott Serio (equine photography).
More details on the Touch of Class Award and past recipients can be viewed at mda.maryland.gov/horseboard/Pages/touch_of_class.aspx.
— Maryland Department of Agriculture