Could Racing in Maryland Soon Be Drug-Free?

The Daily Racing Form reports that the owner of Pimlico and Laurel racetracks, Frank Stronach (who also owns Gulfstream Park in Florida), has asked Florida regulators to help him implement a program that would phase out all raceday medication, including Lasix, for three-year-olds at the track, beginning with the 2011-12 meeting, and that he intends to implement the same plan in Maryland. According to John P. Sparkman in the July 21, 2011 Thoroughbred Times, Stronach also sent the request to Maryland regulators.

Will Rosecroft Host Harness Racing This Year?

Rosecroft’s new owner, Penn National Gaming, says they are all set to open live racing at the shuttered track, 20 this year, 54 next year. Remember Penn National? They owned the Laurel/Pimlico tracks until recently, like, oh, last month, having just signed over complete ownership of those tracks so they could be approved as the new owner of the bankrupt Rosecroft Raceway. Remember, they are the folks that wanted to truncate the Thoroughbred racing schedule? Threatened the entire industry in order to get their way? Yes, well, now instead of owning Thoroughbred race tracks in Maryland, they own a defunct Standardbred track…and the beleagured Standardbred industry is just happy to not only have an owner, but to have an owner that is promising to reopen live racing. Oh, and Penn doesn’t own Rosecroft directly, but through a subsidiary that they can then choose to fund…or not.
However, Penn National must first jump a few hurdles. (Is it okay to use a steeplechase metaphor in an article on trotters?) On June 29, the Maryland Racing Commission conditionally awarded a racing license to Rosecroft Raceway’s owner, Penn National Gaming, but with a big fat condition: that the company needed to front more than $2 million to cover estimated potential operating losses through 2012. Some say this condition is payback to Penn from the Thoroughbred interests putting pressure on the Racing Commission, but the Racing Commission members deny that, noting that they commonly attach stipulations to licenses.  We don’t think that Penn needs to worry so much about retribution from the Thoroughbred industry as it might have to worry about retribution from the elected officials. Remember, Penn backed the lawsuits and the voter referendum against the Cordish Company, which had been awarded the license for a slots facility at Arundel Mills, and this has caused a delay in the opening of the slots facility, which in turn meant a delay in tax revenue and purse enhancements. Penn has not made many friends in Maryland, but we understand that for the Standandbred folk, they really have no option other than Penn if they hope to revive live racing at Rosecroft. Learn more from Liz Farmer’s article in the Washington Examiner.

The Baltimore Sun’s Distrust of Penn

Slots Revenues Down

Maryland slots revenues dropped 2% from April to May, and another 5% from May to June, according to Hannah Cho in the Baltimore Sun. Ocean Downs revenue was actually up (but not up as much as forecasted), but that was offset by steep declines in Perryville.