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Category: Sports

Race Track Renewal Funds & The Future of Bowie

There are now only 3 days left, as the 2011 Maryland General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on Monday, April 11. In March, we reported on the progress of a bill of tremendous interest to anyone associated in any way with racing in Maryland, be they horsemen, track owners, vets, farriers, breeders or fans: the Race Track Renewal Fund. The general media has referred to this bill as “another race subsidy,” which is rather unfair, as all this bill does is to allow certain slot funds (which are currently, by law, allocated to race track capital improvements) to be used (under limited and certain circumstances) for track operating costs. HB 1039 and SB 848 are considered “Governor’s bills,” as they were submitted, respectively, by the Speaker of the House and the Speaker of the Senate at the request of the administration – and it is important for Equiery readers to understand that this legislation has the full support of the Governor, as well as a wide variety of racing interests. On March 26, the House passed a heavily amended version of the bill. The amendments include creating an oversight commission on racing (yes, dear readers, there already is an oversight commission on racing, created by law, and called “The Maryland Racing Commission;” this amendment would provide another layer of oversight, with this commission made up of elected officials who would...

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Contact Your Legislator About Race Track Renewal Funds

UPDATE On March 16, 2011, The Baltimore Sun published an editorial arguing against the Race Track Renewal Fund legislation. The Sun also published an editorial by Steuart Pittman (Dodan Farm, Davidsonville and the president of the Maryland Horse Council) arguing in favor of the legislation. The title The Sun gave to Mr. Pittman’s editorial incorrectly identifies these funds as “subsidies.” Original Article Published March 16, 2011 The Maryland racing industry is reaching out to the rest of the horse community in an effort to pass the Race Track Renewal Fund bill, which as been crossfiled as House Bill 1039 and Senate Bill 848. (Although there are technically two bills, because they are the same language, we will refer to them as one bill.) The Maryland Horse Council, which serves as the umbrella group for all horse organizations in Maryland, including racing and sport/pleasure groups issued a call to action: LET MARYLAND HORSES RUN! Pass House Bill 1039 / Senate Bill 848 The Maryland Horse Council is calling on ALL horse people, no matter the breed or the sport, to show their support for racetrack renewal funding by attending the hearings this week. For more information, click here or to directly contact your representatives (to find out who they are and all of their contact information) click here and type in your address. When contacting your legislator in writing or...

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Penn Wants Out of Laurel/Pimlico; Says It Will Revive Rosecroft

UPDATE March 24, 2011 Senate Bill 373 (which would prohibit the kind of fighting we had over the slots license for Anne Arundel), which passed the Senate and crossed into the House, will be heard on March 29 in the House. Its companion bill in the House, HB 868, received a favorable report (with amendments) as well. Scroll down for more information. Originally Published March 16, 2011 The Maryland horse world, a $1.6 billion dollar economic impact engine in Maryland, is fairly evenly divided between the racing industries and the sport/pleasure industries. The Equiery’s focus is the sport/pleasure aspect of our community, but we keep an eye on what our cousins are doing in the racing world. We don’t exist in a vacuum, and what happens (or doesn’t happen) in racing eventually affects us one way or the other. And if there is one thing you can say about our racing cousins is that things are never dull on their side of the stable yard. They certainly have a lot of drama going on at all times, but the drama always seems to reach its frenzied heights during the legislative session. And this year is no different. Read on (or scroll down) for the latest drama…but in the meantime, The Equiery would like to take this moment to announce that “The Lady Legends” will return to Black-Eyed Susan Day...

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Maryland Racing Recap

AS THE MARYLAND RACE WORLD TURNS No soap opera could ever trump the drama that is the Maryland racing industry. One would have hoped that, after the crashing crescendos of December, things might have quieted just a bit in the first quarter of 2011, but no… The Equiery would never be able to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the racing industry as thoroughly as it is chronicled in both the general media and by the racing industry media. But what we can do is to give Maryland equestrians a down and dirty recap and then point you towards more in depth articles (if you are so inclined to keep reading). Rosecroft Sold to Penn National Penn National, 49% owner of the Maryland Jockey Club, ups the ante by buying Rosecroft Raceway out of bankruptcy. Since the Thoroughbred interests were the track’s largest creditor due to unpaid simulcasting fees, those interests had to be satisfied first…in essence, Penn is one of the creditors of the bankrupt track which it just purchased. Despite Maryland law, Penn National is determined to get Rosecroft approved for slots (in addition to its quest to have Laurel Park approved for slots). This is going to require a lot of lawsuits and a lot of lobbying. Stay tuned, kids. Maryland Daily Record: PG County won’t support slots at Rosecoft Interestingly, the chairman of Penn National, Peter...

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MHBA President on Heroes in the Horse Industry

A message posted today to the members of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association from president Tom Bowman, DVM. Yesterday the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) held an emergency meeting to consider what Chairman Ulman called a “revision of a revision” of a business plan for racing next year.  This meeting convened just about 24 hours after the Commission had unanimously rejected the Maryland Jockey Club’s (MJC) revision of their initial plan presented to the MRC on November 29th.  The regularly scheduled meetings of the MRC had been marked by a series of testimonies from the representative of various horsemen’s organizations and track management as well as individuals involved in all aspects of the Maryland racing community.  The tone of both meetings was one of disappointment, distrust and rejection of the MJC’s proposal(s) to conduct less than a “full year” (146 days) of live racing in 2011.  The impasse that had evolved seemed insurmountable.  Privately the MJC had agreed to run 146 days if the MTHA and MHBA would offer assurances of certain sources of funding that would essentially eliminate the potential operating losses that would be incurred in 2011.  These losses were estimated to be as much as $7 million.  The horsemen had pledged a direct cash contribution of $1.7 million and their support for legislation that would redirect slot revenue already designated towards track improvement into a fund for track operating...

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Horse industry victorious! Yes, Maryland, there will be a Preakness in 2011.

Like a happy ending out of a traditional holiday tale, Christmas has been saved for thousands of horse owners, breeders, trainers, backstretch workers, vets, farriers and oh-so-many more. Late Wednesday, December 22, 2010, the Maryland Racing Commission approved a deal crafted that morning during closed door negotiations between the Maryland Jockey Club, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, and brokered by Governor O’Malley. Maryland will have a 2011 Preakness, and Maryland will have 146 live days of Thoroughbred racing at Laurel and Pimlico – guaranteed, which is what the horsemen demanded or they were going to cut the simulcast of live racing at the Maryland tracks. MTHA and MHBA were able to secure what they sought (146 days of live racing) without having to sacrifice their simulcasting rights and without the closure of the Bowie training track. They did agree to contribute $1.7 million to the tracks’ operating costs, and O’Malley agreed that the state would redirect towards operating costs the slots revenue originally earmarked for track improvements. MJC apparently lost their quest to cancel racing at any time after the Preakness, lost their demand to close Bowie this year, and lost their request to have MTHA and MHBA fund their lobbying activities. However, the horsemen did say that they would support closing Bowie in the future if MJC agreed to put in 650 permanent...

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