When Laurel Race Course opens its summer meeting May 24, Janice Retler will be a patrol judge, the first woman ever to hold that post in Maryland.

Racing Secretary Bob Umphrey, himself a new appointee, will submit Retler's name to the Maryland Racing Commission for approval.

Commenting on his choice, Umphrey said: "Janice is currently working at Gulfstream Park as a secretary. Her background is impeccable. Her father is a horseman and is the head auctioneer for Fasig-Tipton Horse Sales.

"Her home is in Maryland (Ellicott City) and she will be ready for her duties taking entries and in the patrol judge's stand. She has been hired on her qualifications, and not to break some kind of barrier. She would have been confirmed by now except that I've had to withhold her nomination while the racing commission looks into the matter of possible misidentification of horses. My list of employes can be affected by their findings."

Retler, 30, said: "I'm familiar with the routine in Maryland. I'll do my best. I feel I'm ready."

Retler's specific duties will include the handling of entries of horses for the racing programs and assuring that all information given by the horsemen coincides with the official listings on the track program.

In the afternoon, she will climb the patrol judge's stand for an overview of the races and report by telephone any circumstances that would require scrutiny of film reruns by the stewards. Her observations could result in the disqualification of an errant horse or jockey, though the power to disqualify a horse lies solely with the stewards.