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 stalls at either Laurel or Pimlico.
With this approval, Penn National Gaming, Inc. is now a fully vested owner, along with Frank Stronach (MI Development, Inc.), in the Maryland Jockey Club.
MJC and MHBA released a carefully worded announcement immediately after the parties reached their agreement (but before the Racing Commission has approved the deal). Scroll down to read the announcement in its entirety, and for a list of racing dates and information on Condition Books.
And now, everyone, back to our stables, back to our farms, give the horses an extra helping of hot bran mash or beet pulp, and enjoy Christmas. Yes, Maryland, there will be live racing in 2011.
MARYLAND JOCKEY CLUB TO RACE 146 DAYS IN 2011Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course will conduct 146 days of racing in 2011, the same number that was scheduled for this year after the Maryland Jockey Club and its owners, MI Development and Penn National Gaming, worked out an agreement with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) and Maryland Horse Breeders Association (MHBA) at a Wednesday morning meeting in Annapolis with Governor Martin O’Malley.
“This is a good day for the entire industry,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “I would like to personally thank Governor O’Malley and chief legislative officer Joe Bryce for their support during this process. This discussion provides a foundation for continuing efforts to create a long-term solution to restoring Maryland racing to prominence.”
The Maryland Jockey Club will conduct a winter meeting at Laurel Park, a spring campaign at Pimlico Race Course and a fall meeting at Laurel Park. There will be no live racing at the major Maryland tracks during the summer.The Bowie Training center will remain open for year-round training.The Laurel Park winter stand will begin Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 with live racing taking place four days a week on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule (with holiday exceptions). The 49-day meet will end Saturday, March 26.Condition books will be available on www.laurelpark.com and www.equibase.com until they can be printed next week. Copies will also be available at the Laurel Park and Bowie stable gates.Racing will then shift to Pimlico for the spring meeting, which will be highlighted by the 136th running of the $1,000,000 Preakness Stakes® (Grade I), the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, which is set for Saturday, May 21, 2011. Preakness day will be the final day of the meet for the 29-day stand, which will begin Friday, April 1.After a 15-week break, which will include seven live days of racing at Timonium during the State Fair, live racing will return to the major tracks on the Saturday after Labor Day. Racing will take place from Sept. 10 through Dec. 17, four days a week in September (Wednesday through Saturday) and five days a week in October, November and December (Tuesday through Saturday).2011 Maryland Live Racing ScheduleLaurel Park Winter Meeting (49 days)Jan. 1Jan. 5-6-7-8Jan. 12-13-14-15Jan. 17-20-21-22Jan. 26-27-28-29Feb. 2-3-4-5Feb. 9-10-11-12Feb. 16-17-18-19Feb. 21-24-25-26Mar. 2-3-4-5Mar. 9-10-11-12Mar. 16-17-18-19Mar. 23-24-25-26
Pimlico Spring Meeting (29 days)Apr. 1-2-3Apr. 7-8-9-10Apr. 14-15-16-17Apr. 21-22-23 (do not race Easter Sunday)Apr. 28-29-30-May 1May 5-6-7-8May 12-13-14-15May 19-20-21
Laurel Park Fall Meeting (68 days)Sept. 10Sept. 14-15-16-17Sept. 21-22-23-24Sept. 28-29-30-Oct. 1Oct. 4-5-6-7-8Oct. 10-11-13-14-15Oct. 18-19-20-21-22Oct. 25-26-27-28-29Nov. 1-2-3-4-5Nov. 8-9-10-11-12Nov. 15-16-17-18-19Nov. 22-23-24-25-26Nov. 29-30-Dec. 1-2-3Dec. 6-7-8-9-10Dec. 13-14-15-16-17