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Minutes of Public Meeting - April 25, 2019

Commission Members Present:

Mike Algeo, Chairman
Thomas Bowman
David Hayden
Tammy Lafferty
Tom Winebrener
Konrad Wayson

Clarissa Coughlin
Ernie Grecco

Members Absent:

Ronald Thomas

Staff Present Representing the Maryland Racing Commission:

J. Michael Hopkins

Executive Director
Eric B. London
Assistant Attorney General

In accordance with the Notice of Public Meeting, as required by §3-302, General Provisions Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, the Maryland Racing Commission (“Commission”) met in open session on April 25, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland. Chairman Mike Algeo welcomed the public to the meeting.

Minutes – March 28, 2019.

The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting of March 28, 2019 and voted unanimously to approve them.

Legislative Update.

J. Michael Hopkins, Executive Director of the Commission, informed the Commission that the only legislation passed during the 2019 session was House Bill 80, which removed the Union Hospital as the beneficiary of any profit derived from the Fair Hill races.

Maryland Standardbred Race Fund – 2019 Purses.

The Commission was provided with the 2019 purse schedule for the Maryland Standardbred Race Fund for approval. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland Bred Race Fund Annual Yearling Show Report.

The Commission was asked to review and accept the Annual Yearling Show Report. Hearing no objection, the Commission accepted the report as submitted.

Maryland State Fair 2019 Racing Schedule.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a request from the Maryland State Fair for their race meeting on August 23, 2019 through September 2, 2019. The request included the post time of the races, number of races, racing officials and other requests for the days. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland Jockey Club – Laurel Summer Racing Schedule.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a request from the Maryland Jockey Club for the Laurel summer race meeting beginning May 31, 2019 through August 22, 2019 and August 27, 2019. The request included the post time of the races, number of races, racing officials and other requests for the days. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland Jockey Club - Update.

Sal Sinatra, representing the Maryland Jockey Club, informed the Commission that Anne Arundel County inspected the living quarters at Laurel Park for a second time and noted all of the violations had been corrected, but indicated that they made a new request to have certain windows replaced, which was being addressed. Mr. Sinatra commented that he would provide the Commission with documentation of the corrections upon receipt from Anne Arundel County.

Mr. Sinatra also advised that the exchange of seats for the closed area (Old Grandstand) for Preakness Day were going smoothly and everyone was being accommodated. Chairman Algeo commented that he had received letters from the Mayor of Baltimore, Delegate Mosby and the Baltimore City Delegation, all of which had been or would be addressed. The Chairman emphasized the he and the Executive Director has been on the backside reviewing the barns, but not the living quarters. Mr. Algeo also commented that the Commission would defer to Anne Arundel County to inspect living quarters, as the Commission has no expertise in this area. Chairman Algeo advised that the Commission would be active to correct issues, when they are brought to the attention of the Commission.

Chairman Algeo further commented that Mr. Hopkins had reached out to Mr. Sinatra requesting a copy of the engineering report, which resulted in the closure of the seating area at Pimlico’s Old Grandstand. Chairman Algeo continued that it was his understanding that Baltimore City engineers had also been out to Pimlico and agreed with the findings of the report. Chairman Algeo advised that the Commission was interested in the report as it related to safety. For safety, the Commission requested a copy of the report. Alan Rifkin, an attorney representing the Maryland Jockey Club (“MJC”), explained to the Commission that the MJC would be willing to provide a copy to the Commission under a confidentially agreement, due to the pending litigation between Baltimore City and the MJC. The Commission agreed to accept the report under the terms of the confidentiality agreement. Mr. Rifkin agreed to provide the report by May 2, 2019.

Public Comments.

Chairman Algeo started public comments by stating that he had received phone calls regarding the breakdowns at Santa Anita, asking if Maryland had protocols in place to address the issue. He indicated that the Commission had been proactive in the past in responding to breakdowns. In response to the heightened concern, he commented that the Commission would be putting together a Committee to review procedures.

Chairman Algeo also recognized Alan Foreman for being the recipient of the William May Award, which is presented by the Association of Racing Commissioners International to an individual who had made a profound impact on the racing industry. Alan Foreman thanked Mr. Algeo and commented that the Santa Anita issues were not unlike those that had occurred in New York and Maryland in the past. Mr. Foreman continued that not a single issue was identified for the cause of the breakdowns in Maryland, but collectively each contributing factor was reviewed and improved upon, which resulted in a decrease in the fatality rate. Mr. Foreman continued commenting that the current recommendations on medications being put forth (no race day lasix) has no relationship to the breakdowns at Santa Anita.

Chairman Algeo thanked Mr. Foreman. Chairman Algeo also commented that the Commission is involved in more than meeting once a month and those members of the Commission, including himself, meet with various industry stake holders on a regular basis to discuss and resolve pending issues.

Chairman Algeo introduced Delegate Sandy Rosenberg on behalf of the Baltimore City Delegation. Delegate Rosenberg commented to the Commission that eventually the engineering report should become a public document. Mr. Rosenberg also commented that Racetrack Facility Renewal Account funds, while being under the purview of the Commission, should be withheld pending the remediation of the housing issues at both Laurel and Pimlico, as provided by the statute. Further, Delegate Rosenberg requested the MJC provide information for the running of the Preakness this year, next year and beyond.

Cricket Goodall of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association informed the public of the May 11, 2019 farm tour.

David Richardson, representing the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, commented that there were a number of horsemen signing up for the pension program and that the program was very much appreciated by the participants.

Next Commission Meeting.

The next Commission Meeting will be held on May 23, 2019 at 12:30 P.M. at Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland 21215.

J. Michael Hopkins
Executive Director