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Category: State Agencies

Racing Rocked Annapolis

By Tom LaMarra (originally published on tharacing.com, the official website for the national Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association). The Maryland racing industry’s efforts to educate lawmakers and present a unified front paid off during the 2017 General Assembly session that ended April 10. The Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act contained several provisions that, had they passed, would have shifted money from the Purse Dedication Account, which is funded by a percentage of video lottery terminal revenue at the state’s six casinos. On the table was a recommendation for the industry, not the state, to pay about $2.5 million for Maryland Racing Commission operations, and another to strike a 2016 legislature-approved measure for the Maryland Lottery to pay $500,000 for a Preakness Stakes bonus for Maryland-bred or -sired runners that compete in the race, and $500,000 to revive an international turf stakes at Laurel Park. As a result of negotiations, the state will continue to fund the racing commission and the combined $1 million for the bonus and what is being called the Maryland International will still come from the Maryland Lottery. Representatives of the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industries spent quite a bit of time in Annapolis during the winter and early spring to make the case that racing and breeding is making a comeback, and denting the purse account would be detrimental to the industry and the state’s economy. “I’m happy,”...

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Anne Arundel County Horse Tests Positive for Equine Herpes Virus

THIS JUST IN FROM THE MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: A horse stabled in ANNE ARUNDEL County has tested positive for the non-neuropathogenic form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1). On the evening of April 2, the horse was transported to Marion DuPont Scott Equine Health Center in Leesburg, Va., where it exhibited severe neurological signs, and was euthanized shortly after arrival. Diagnosis of EHV-1 was confirmed today, April 4, by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Animal Health Lab in Warrenton, Va. The farm is presently under a 21-day investigational hold and strict biosecurity measures are in place while...

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Fair Hill $250,000 Bond Bill

On Sat. March 11, legislators in both houses heard bond bills which would help fund improvements to the equestrian facilities at Fair Hill, which is owned and managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Senate Bill 708 and House Bill 977 would authorize the creation of a State Debt not to exceed $250,000, the proceeds to be used as a grant to The National Steeplechase Foundation, Inc. for the acquisition, planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, reconstruction, site improvement, and capital equipping of the Fair Hill Race Course. If passed, NSF would be required to acquire matching funds. The...

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Mucking for Gold

A bill not likely to pop up on the average horse person’s radar, but one that could have a subtle yet profound impact on the horse industry, is Senate Bill 99 and it cross-filed cousin House Bill 171. With the cumbersome and decidedly non-sexy title of “Environment: Yard Waste, and Food Residuals, and Other Organic Materials Diversion and Infrastructure – Study,” why would any horse person pay attention to this bill? And what does this bill do? In essence, this bill requires the Department of the Environment to consult with certain entities (including the Maryland Horse Council) and to...

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$30,000 awarded to 23 Maryland horse groups

  $30,000 in grants is being distributed by the Maryland Horse Industry Board (an ag commodity board housed at the Maryland Department of Agriculture) for 23 projects ranging from training to help animal control workers in equine welfare cases, enhance facilities for inner city children to learn about horses and horsemanship, and restore historic Maryland horse racing films from the 1920s that have never been seen by the public.  Nearly half of this year’s grantees received funding for projects related to 4-H, Pony Club and therapeutic horsemanship programs. (Scroll down to see who is getting a grant.) Funding for these grants and the Maryland Horse Industry Board is provided by the Maryland Feed Fund, which collects $6 on every ton of horse feed sold in the state. The funding is collected through the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Weights & Measures Section (these are the folks that make sure that when you purchase a gallon of milk or gas is a true gallon, or that 50 lb bag of horse feed is 50 pounds). Projects are evaluated based on their value to the industry, degree of industry promotion, size and scope of activity, financial need, potential for matching funds, and overall quality of the written presentation. Grants are capped at $3,000 in order to award funds to as many groups as possible. Grant recipients are required to file a project report...

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Dr. Daniel Named New State Vet

Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Daniel took over the role of state veterinarian for the Maryland Racing Commission on January 1, replacing Dr. David Zipf who retired from MRC after 50-plus years at the end of the 2016 season. Dr. Daniel is the state vet for West Virginia working at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and plans to continue that role as well. She told the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, “I’m a workaholic. I got that from my dad.” She also stated that she had been substituting at the Maryland tracks for the past two years and looks forward...

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