Minutes of Public Meeting - January 24, 2019
Commission Members Present:
Mike Algeo, Chairman
Staff Present Representing the Maryland Racing Commission:
J. Michael Hopkins
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 January 24, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland. Chairman Mike Algeo welcomed the public to the meeting.
Minutes – December 13, 2018.
The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting of December 13, 2018 and voted unanimously to approve them.
Equine Safety and Welfare Committee.
J. Michael Hopkins, Executive Director of the Commission, reported that the Safety and Welfare Committee had met the previous week. In addition to examining the Claiming Rule, the Committee formally established a Review Committee to review each catastrophic injury that occurs during a race or during training hours. Mr. Hopkins advised that the Review Committee will consist of the horse’s practicing veterinarian, trainer, and jockey as well as a member of the Commission, the track superintendent, a representative of the Maryland Jockey Club, a representative of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and a Commission veterinarian. Mr. Hopkins further advised that the Review Committee would begin immediately.
Maryland Jockey Club – Backstretch Improvements.
Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club (“MJC”), commented that due to the proposed development at Bowie as a training center, he has been meeting with the horsemen to discuss the project. Chairman Algeo referenced his inspection of the Laurel backside in December and asked what improvements had been performed. Mr. Sinatra replied that paving between barns has taken place. In addition, Mr. Sinatra commented that the MJC was in the process of rehabilitating the Laurel Barn area, starting with the concrete block barns by installing new roofs. Commissioner Konrad Wayson asked how the proposed completion schedule was progressing. Mr. Sinatra informed the Commission that the projects presented to the Commission were expected to be completed on schedule. Mr. Sinatra also commented that any new barns at Laurel or Bowie would not be the “tent” style barns. David Richardson, Executive Director of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (“MTHA”), commented that the MTHA had been meeting with the MJC concerning the plans for the barns.
Prior to the start of public comments, Chairman Algeo stated there were some issues that needed to be addressed. First, the Chairman explained that although there was a rumor that a debate about the future of Pimlico would occur at the Budget and Taxation hearing in Annapolis, no debate concerning Pimlico was discussed at that hearing. The Chairman explained that the presentation was a general overview of racing. Chairman Algeo continued commenting that the horse industry is doing well and that any infighting between industry stakeholders could lead to non-stakeholders making decisions on the direction of the industry. As an aside, Chairman Algeo quoted part of Governor Hogan’s inauguration speech stating “not to perpetuate polarization and paralysis, I come from the get to work and get things done school of politics and I will work with anyone who wants to do the people’s business. We have enough worries, stress and drama in our private lives”.
The Chairman also had heard rumors that the status of Pimlico would be debated at the Commission meeting. Mr. Algeo noted that as Chairman of the MRC, he did not have an opinion on the future of Pimlico, as the issue has not come before the Commission. In closing, the Chairman commented the future of racing depends on all the stakeholders in racing working together.
Jacqui Nigh, Sponsorship and Marketing Director of the Great Frederick Fair invited the Commission to hold its September meeting at the Great Frederick Fair, as it had done in 2018. Ms. Nigh also commented that the winningest Standardbred horse in history “Foiled Again”, would be making an appearance at the Fair along with its co-owner Mark Weaver.
Andy Cashman of the Maryland State Fair thanked the Commission, MJC and the MTHA for their support of the State Fair. In addition, Mr. Cashman informed the Commission of the Pet Expo taking place at Timonium. Cricket Goodall, Executive Director of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, reminded everyone about Maryland Horse Industry Day in Annapolis, which is scheduled for January 29, 2019. April Smith representing Friends of Pimlico expressed her concern over the possible relocation of Pimlico/Preakness to Laurel. Bobby Lillis, Executive Director of the Maryland Horsemen’s Assistance Fund, mentioned that the quality of life on the backstretch at Laurel Park is improving and that everyone was appreciative of the work being performed on the backside of the racetrack.
Next Commission Meeting.
The next Commission Meeting will be held on February 28, 2019 at 12:30 P.M. at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland 20725.
J. Michael Hopkins