Steve Warrington, winner of several Maryland harness racing driving titles in recent years, has been excluded from Rosecroft and Delmarva raceways, effective immediately.
Rosecroft's director of operations, Tom Barry, gave Warrington a letter informing him of the exclusion after the 11th race Sunday night. Although the notice was signed by Barry, the decision to ban Warrington was made by Jim Murphy, Rosecroft's president and general manager. Murphy yesterday said he would not comment on his reasons for the exclusion.
Warrington is a director of the Maryland Harness Horsemen's Association, a new organization that was started in response to local horsemen's frustrations with the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association, which currently represents Maryland horsemen in negotiations with the track. Cloverleaf and Rosecroft recently agreed to a new contract covering purse distribution.
Warrington said he believes the ban has to do with his involvement in the new horsemen's association or with his dealings with Rosecroft's racing secretary, Billy Perkins.
Murphy said no action has been taken against any horseman simply because they are associated with the new group. Bib Roberts, a trainer and driver at Rosecroft and also a director of the new association, said he knew of no other actions taken against members.
"I have no idea why," Warrington said of his exclusion. "It's got nothing to do with racing. The judges knew nothing about it. I know I haven't done anything. The damage it will do to me is incredible." Warrington said there are no suspensions pending against him.
Warrington is the third-leading driver at Rosecroft with 53 victories. His 21 percent winning proficiency is the best at the track. He lives in Galena, Md., and has raced in the state for 15 years.
The exclusion of Warrington was a first for Murphy, who runs Rosecroft, Delmarva and Atlantic City Race Course, a thoroughbred track. Murphy's predecessor at Rosecroft, Bill Miller, often used the track's exclusionary powers.
Warrington said there has been friction between he and Perkins for the past year. "It's no secret," he said. "The racing secretary and I don't get along down there."
Perkins confirmed he has had personal problems with Warrington. "That's common knowledge," he said, declining further comment.
Courts have ruled in numerous cases around the country that a race track has the right to exclude anyone as long as the exclusion is not based on sex, race or religion. To protect themselves against possible legal action, tracks usually will not disclose the specific reason for an exclusion.
Warrington operated a high-quality stable in Maryland with his brother Dan, the leading trainer at Rosecroft this summer.