Meet the Fran Burns

Fran Burns is the head of the Sun- rise Tour guides. Her passion is her off -the-track T or- oughbreds:


tability (aka Ben), Garcon D’or and her current show horse Dustin’s Dreamer. Fran grew up riding hunt- ers as a child and owns a small horse boarding operation, Boxwood Farm, in Monkton. In her spare time, she works at Canter for the Cause at Pimlico Race Course and is a huge supporter of Maryland Aftercare for T oroughbreds. She volunteers with MidAtlantic Horse Rescue, a Maryland-based 501c3 non-profi t T orough- bred rescue and aftercare organization. Fran said, “I love teaching non-horse people (espe- cially kids) about the horse connection, Mary- land racing and aftercare!”

Dr. Erica Gaertner

Dr. Erica Gaert- ner started rid- ing at the age of four and loved everything horse when she was little,


going to Pimlico and watching the races.

In high

school, Erica be- came interested

in steeplechasing and rode in that sport off and on for 15 years. She also competed in hunter/ jumper shows, mostly with off -the-track T or- oughbreds. Erica attended medical school and is now a resident physician, but continues to gallop horses for trainers Billy Meister and Jonathan Sheppard whenever she has a day off . Erica says she enjoys being a tour guide, “because it is a way for me to stay connected with the horse community and get other people involved. It is great to be able to show people some of the lesser-known behind-the-scenes aspects of horse racing. It’s very fulfi lling to promote a sport that is a huge part of my life.”

Anita Slebzak Anita Slebzak grew up in Anne Arundel

County, crazy about horses, but never able to have one as a kid. She bought her fi rst horse, a Standardbred mare who was too hot for the hack line at the local stable, when she was 19.

2017 Sunrise at Old Hilltop

T ey got along fabulously. Anita started working on the track a year later as a hot walker for Richard Dutrow, Sr., and eventually became a groom. In addition to Dutrow, she has worked for both of the Delps, Dean Gaudet, and some lesser- known but familiar trainers on the Maryland circuit. T is wide variety of trainers gave her exposure to dif-

ferent schools of thought on training and horse care. Anita went on to breed and own a race- horse of her own, unsuccessful on the track but sold as a hunter/jumper. Anita left the track and worked for Ann Merryman for a few years, but the physical labor was too taxing, so she segued into offi ce work at the local small animal vet hospital. She said, “I like being a tour guide as it gives me the opportunity to share my expe- rience and passion for racing and horses with people who haven’t had much exposure to horse racing. And I love being able to catch sight of some of the top horses in the country as they train in the morning in preparation for the Preakness,

or one of the other big races Pimlico presents during Preakness week.”

Bobby Lillis Originally from

Detroit, Michi-

gan, Bobby Lillis found work at the racetrack in 1969 and has worked at almost every track on the East Coast for the last 48 years. Horse racing is the only life he has known. “It is a place with countless

career opportunities, a place where the Ameri- can Dream is still very much alive. For me, it is as a jockey and horse owner.” Bobby said. For the last 20 years, Bobby has been the Benefi ts Director and an advocate for backstretch work- ers facing hardships, with the help of funding from the Maryland Horsemen’s Assistance Foundation and the Maryland T oroughbred Horsemen’s Association. He added, “Sunrise Tours allows us to teach the general public the

Tour Guides

many joys of working with horses and under- standing their passionate characters.”

Tom Strauss Tom Strauss is a far-

rier by profession and a lifelong horseracing fan. Early in his life he knew he wanted to be involved with T oroughbreds and racing and one of his ear- liest jobs was managing

the broodmares at Briardale Farm in New Jer- sey. After leaving Briardale, Tom went to farrier school and then apprenticed with a well-known farrier in NJ before starting his own business. T ere he met his wife Bev (also a tour guide) while she was galloping a T oroughbred for a mutual friend. T ey bought their fi rst racehorse together, a yearling, and owned and trained a small stable until the birth of their fi rst son. After a break from racing to raise a family, Bev and Tom now have two young horses ready to start their racing careers. Tom enjoys sharing his passion for T oroughbreds with newcomers to the track, and being up close and personal with horses on the backside.

Katherine Powder Katherine Powder has been involved with

horses, primarily T oroughbreds, for over 30 years.

Although originally from Maryland,

Katherine and her husband now own and op- erate a small T oroughbred breeding/racing stable in south- ern York County, Pennsylvania. She trail rides, has foxhunted, and retrains for- mer racehorses. Katherine was an equine veteri- nary assistant for many years. She said, “I really enjoy how the adults and children who come to Pimlico for Sunrise Tours are so thrilled with the experience. It is truly a rare treat for people to get a behind-the-scenes view and learn about horses, racing, and the history of Pimlico.”

Elizabeth Scully

Although this is Elizabeth Scully’s fi rst year as a guide for the Sunrise Tours, she has been the lead member of the Preakness team for the past fi ve years as a representative of Off - the- continued...

Tours are free to the public and take place Tuesday, May 15 through Friday, May 19 from 6 a.m. until 9 a.m. Each walking tour is approximately 20 minutes and includes stops at the grandstand, paddock, stakes barn, winner’s circle and more! For details go to | 800-244-9580 MAY 2017 | THE EQUIERY | 29


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