Can 2 Legit 2 Quit be coming to Pimlico?
The local racing brass would love nothing more than to have rap star Hammer come to the race course for the Preakness and rev up some excitement in Charm City. Hammer really would have the town rockin' if he were to come the day before and throw some life into the pre-race celebrations.
So the red carpet was rolled out when Hammer's dad, Lewis Burrell Sr., came to town Thursday night to be honored at the African-Americans in Horse Racing Dinner.
Ernest J. Colvin, former racing commission chairman, served as goodwill ambassador. Colvin, who is still a member of the commission, has been on the board for 15 years.
Colvin dusted off his 1979 silver-and-black Rolls Royce, met Burrell at the airport Thursday morning and entertained him that afternoon at the races.
Hammer and his family-owned Oaktown Stable have a Triple Crown horse, Dance Floor, who is favored to win the Florida Derby in two weeks. It's quite likely the horse is Preakness-bound, especially since he's trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who tries never to sit out a Triple Crown race.
The Burrells also own the crack filly, Lite Light, who is a prime candidate to run in Pimlico's new $250,000 distaff stakes at nine furlongs on June 20.
Colvin had met Burrell and one of his sons, Chris, at the Thoroughbred Racing Association's convention in Las Vegas about a month ago.
Hammer and his family were honored there with the Big Sport of Turfdom Award by the Racing Publicists of America.
"We got to talking and became immediate friends," Colvin said. So, it was a natural that when Burrell came to town, Colvin served as his host.
The Burrells have 21 horses in training in California with three different trainers, "but he told me that within six to eight months they hope to have 40 horses, and also get into the breeding business," Colvin said.
"Mr. Burrell has three sons -- Hammer, Lewis Jr., who is Hammer's manager, and Chris," Colvin said. "Lewis Jr. and Chris manage the racing stable along with their dad. The sons are all classy young men, and their dad is a real no-nonsense kind of guy. For about the last 20 years, he has been the manager of a card casino in Oakland, Calif. He took the day off Thursday just to come to Baltimore.
"They have good advisers in the horse business and really have their act together."
Colvin, who loves nothing more than to encourage more black owners to get into the game, said just having Burrell in Baltimore for the dinner meant a lot.
"He can spark other people to get into racing," he said. "It was an exciting day."
Open house: The town house on Canterbury Riding Road in Laurel looks just like all the others on the block.
Except there's a big difference.
It is called Oxford House, and it's part of the nationwide network of 306 homes for individuals recovering from alcohol and drug addiction. There are 37 other homes like it in Maryland and six in the Baltimore area.
L There is also one other major difference at the Laurel home.
It is the first one specifically set up to cater to racetrack workers and was established through the help of local homebuilder-philanthropist-horse owner Jim Ryan.
Ryan met Paul Molloy, director of the Oxford House program, at a racing industry-sponsored drug and alcohol symposium last fall in Louisville, Ky.
The Oxford House works like this: It is a rented home integrated into a regular neighborhood. It is not a halfway home, but provides clean, comfortable surroundings for recovered addicts who want to get on with their lives.
"It is the missing link in the recovery program," said Ed Thompson, who lives at the Laurel home.
"When recovered addicts go back to their own environment, a large percentage revert to drugs. But if, instead, the person has a nice place to live, has the support of other people and can take responsibility for his life, then he has a much better chance to stay clean. The Oxford House program has the success record to prove it."
Each house is self-run and self-supported by the six people living there.
At the Laurel home, which opened Jan. 15, each person pays $76.50 weekly rent, which includes everything but food. The house is located within a mile of the track for an easy commute to work.
Ryan hopes to have an Oxford House located near every track in the country.
To give the racing industry an idea of how an Oxford House operates, the residents of the Laurel home are having an open house 3-6 p.m. Wednesday.
To inquire about the open house and the Oxford House program, contact Oxford House National Service office, 9312 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Md. 20901.
Bowling Brook update: When the historic training barn at Bowling Brook Farm near Westminster burned down almost two months ago, trainer Joanna Weber-Sichette lost nearly everything. Nine of the 10 horses she trained perished in the blaze.
She was also out of work, and shortly thereafter her house on the farm was robbed.
Now Weber-Sichette reports things are looking up.
She has a new job working at Fox Den Farm near Union Bridge. It is a large Standardbred operation owned by Linda and Tom Weinbrenner.
Her one filly who survived the blaze, In My Power, was released from the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Clinic in Leesburg, Va., two weeks ago and is stabled at Fox Den.
"She's growing hair now where she was burned and is well enough that she can go out for a while each day to graze," Weber-Sichette said.
Weber-Sichette said the investigation into the cause of the fire and the robbery of her home is not yet complete.