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Category: Sports

Cordish, Jockey Club make impassioned pleas to Horsemen

At the Thursday evening, January 21, 2010 meeting of the Maryland Horse Council, current and potential future owners of Laurel/Pimlico race courses presented to a packed room radically different perspectives of the current slots situation in Anne Arundel County and how the future of Laurel Park might be affected. Laurel and Pimilco Race Courses are slated to be auctioned February 10, 2010 in order to settle parent company Magna Entertainment’s bankruptcy proceedings. Over 100 horse people filled the Vista Room at the Maryland State Fair Grounds; many leaders in the Thoroughbred industry peppered the audience, including former track owner Bob Manfuso, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen Association’s Richard Hoffberger, Maryland Stallion Station owner Don Litz, Shamrock Farms’s Jim Steele, Maryland Horse Breeders Assocation Executive Director Cricket Goodall, plus Katy Voss, Bill Reightler, Brice Ridgely, Christy Clagett and many more. Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club (which is owned by Magna), explained how and why the Jockey Club is organizing a petition drive in Anne Arundel County, in which they hope to gather enough signatures from county residents to overturn the special zoning the Cordish Companies received (the zoning exemption allows Cordish to build a slots parlor near Arundel Mills). If MJC is able to raise enough signatures to overturn the granted special zoning, MJC believe it will give them the needed window of opportunity to resubmit a bid for...

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Laurel & Pimlico Auction Delayed Again

According to Karin De Francis, the auction of the Thoroughbred tracks has been delayed until February 10th, but she gave no reason for the delay. Although Magna assumed ownership of Laurel, Pimlico and the Bowie Training Center from the De Francis family, Karin De Francis still works closely with the Maryland Jockey Club to promote Maryland racing.  The delay is upsetting horsemen who are anxious to get on with whatever the future may bring.  For more on the delay, see the article by Liz Farmer in The Daily...

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Happy 2010! Cordish Christmas Gift, De Francis Denied, Auction Delays

The Cordish Companies were delivered a Christmas gift on December 22 when Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold signed Bill 82-08, granting Cordish’s zoning request to allow his Arundel Mills casino site to move forward. To read more, see the January issue of The Equiery or click on this link: Washington Post Explains Use of Paid Signature Gatherers by Jockey Club Meanwhile, horsemen and pundits eagerly (some nervously) awaiting the January 8 Magna bankruptcy auction for Laurel Park, Pimilco Racecourse and the Bowie Training Center will have to once again put their expectations in park, as yesterday Magna requested that the court delay the auction – ostensibly so that Magna could reach a preliminary private deal with one of the potential bidders of the property.  Privately, however, horsemen are wondering if the delay is so that Magna can have enough time to gin up enough signatures of Arundel Mill residents to nullify the Cordish zoning exemption. In the midst of all of this, according to various news reports, the bankruptcy judge overseeing the Magna case has declared that the deal Joe De Francis made with Magna (when the international company purchased the tracks from the De Francis family) for a piece of any slots action can not be transferred to a new owner. Unless De Francis purchases the tracks himself, he will not gain in the future from...

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Slots OK’d for Arundel Mills and Laurel, But Not Both

Confused? Late Monday night, the Anne Arundel Council approved Bill 82-09, which changes the zoning regulations to allow Cordish Cos. to build the largest slots parlor in Maryland. The Council also approved Bill 81-09, which would allow slots at other locations in the County, but only if those sites are north of Rt. 32. This would include Laurel Park but not Arundel Mills. Now the final decision is left to County Executive John R. Leopold. He can chose to veto either bill and several sources, including The Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and The Daily Record, have all stated that Leopold will more than likely veto Bill 81-09, thus allowing Cordish to move forward with building near Arundel Mills. If Leopold decides in favor of Cordish, the group Stop Slots at Arundel Mills, told the press Monday night that they plan to launch a petition drive in hopes of creating a referendum that would be put on the Anne Arundel County general ballot this November. The group would need about 19,000 signatures and file the petition within 45 days of the bill becoming a law. So what does that mean for the future of slots at Maryland? Not really sure at this point. Send us your thoughts to or comment here on this blog. For more on this topic, read these articles: The Daily Record The Baltimore Sun The...

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With Rally & Racing Cancelled, Racetrackers Regroup

Now that the rally and racing has been canceled today, on this very snowy December 19, 2009, leaders in the horse industry are urging horse people to send a letter to the Anne Arundel County Council Members.  Click here for more background, sample letters and contact information for legislators. Industry leaders are also asking horse people to attend the County Council meeting (44 Calvert Street; Annapolis) on Monday, December 21st to show support for slots at Laurel Racetrack, and to urge the Council to vote against approval zoning for slots at Arundel Mills (because of the negative impact slots at Arundel Mills will have on Laurel’s future). For more background, visit “News Feed” and click on the category “Maryland Racing...

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Council Cowers, Rally Rocks, News at 5 – plus, Laurel’s Christmas Gift To You

Watch this evening’s news for the latest on Laurel! This morning, December 17, 2009, news cameras and reporters descended on Laurel Park for the latest in the slots saga. Anne Arundel County Council members were invited to a meeting by the Maryland Horse Council, to review how, with a new owner come January 9th (the date of the auction), Laurel Park is “shovel-ready” for slots, whereas, according to the Jockey Club’s estimations, it will take close to five years for slots to be up and running at Arundel Mills. The Jockey Club has already obtained all necessary permits and zoning approvals, already has all the environmental impact studies, and everything else they need to immediately adapt the racetrack for slots (see attached). After the Council members refused to attend, a press conference unveiling the “slots-shovel-readiness” of Laurel Park was held, with t.v. cameras and news reporters in full attendance. The Council is scheduled to vote Monday, December 21 on the Cordish request. The theory is that if Arundel Mills were to be approved for slots, Laurel Racetrack’s value will plummet, making it unlikely that anyone will bid on the park as a racetrack – but certainly making the property more appealing to developers, all in all making approval for slots at Arundel Mills a death knell for racing at Laurel. The Equiery agrees that the prospects for Laurel and...

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