Skip to Main Content

Minutes of Public Meeting - March 28, 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 March 28, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland. Chairman Mike Algeo welcomed the public to the meeting.

Minutes – February 28, 2019.

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

Proposed Regulations.

J. Michael Hopkins, Executive Director of the Commission, presented the Commission with a proposal to amend COMAR, which would codify an existing practice of requiring a jockey to have the most current Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) baseline concussion test performed on an annual basis as well as requiring an annual physical. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the proposed regulation.

The second proposal presented to the Commission was an amendment to COMAR, which would require a racing association to adopt, have posted and implement a protocol for management of concussions; make available a medical professional trained in evaluating concussions; and require a jockey to acknowledge in writing that they have been made aware of the concussion protocols at the facility which they are riding. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the proposed regulation. Chairman Algeo thanked Dr. Kelly Ryan, who has taken the lead in providing and developing concussion protocols at the racetrack.

Final Regulations.

The Commission was asked to adopt as final the amendments to COMAR, which repeals the current structure of jockey fees and substitutes the specific payments for the jockey who rides a horse in a race to be determined by an agreement approved by the Commission between the horsemen and jockeys. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the amendment for final adoption. The second regulation presented for final adoption was COMAR, which corrected the time in which a horse could be treated prior to a race. The amendment states that a horse may not be treated during the 24 hour period before the scheduled post time of the horse’s race, instead of the scheduled post time for the first race of the day. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the amendment for final adoption.

Fair Hill Requests.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a request from the Cecil County Breeders for their race meeting at Fair Hill on May 25, 2019. The request included the post time of the races, number of races, racing officials and other requests for the day. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Preakness Bonus – Maryland Bred.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins explained to the Commission that a $500,000.00 bonus was available if a Maryland Bred horse won, finished 2nd or 3rd and that each year the Commission had to approve the formula for its distribution. Mr. Hopkins noted that the 2019 Bonus distribution would remain the same as 2018. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Legislative Update.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that at this point in the session, three bills had crossed over to the opposite chamber for consideration, HB 80 repealing the proceeds generated at Fair Hill for the Union Hospital; SB 878 that would make Bowie eligible for Racing Facility Redevelopment Funds; and HB 990 providing Racing Facility Redevelopment Funds for Bowie. The Commission members thanked Mr. Hopkins for the information.

Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting.

J. Michael Hopkins reported that on March 21, 2019 approximately 70 individuals from the mid-Atlantic area along with representatives from Illinois met at Delaware Park. The meeting has been an annual event where regulators, Commission members and horsemen meet to discuss mutual issues and present changes to promote uniformity within the region. The coordination of the meeting is due to the work of Alan Foreman. As a result of the meeting, the entire group endorsed a policy to prohibit the use of Bisphosphonates on horses under the age of 4 in accordance with the FDA recommendations and also presented a strategic plan developed by Dr. Scott Palmer from New York that is focused on the reduction of equine fatalities. Chairman Algeo thanked Mr. Foreman for all of his work. Commissioner Ernie Grecco made a motion to officially recognize Mr. Foreman for all of the work and time he devoted to the racing industry. The Commission unanimously endorsed the motion.

Maryland Jockey Club – Update.

Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club, reported the Jockey Club was continuing to move forward on the roof projects and rodent problem in the stable area. Mr. Sinatra also commented that he had met with the officials of Bowie and they were looking forward to seeing the training facility re-open. In regard to the latest news concerning living quarters at the track, Mr. Sinatra commented that the Anne Arundel County officials had reviewed the living quarters and that the Maryland Jockey Club would address any deficiencies. Mr. Sinatra further stated that County Executive Steuart Pittman would be visiting the barn area at Laurel Park on March 29, 2019.

Public Comments.

Neil Agate, President of the Maryland Horse Council, explained that the goal of the Council is to educate the public about racing. Mr. Agate also commented that the Equiery magazine was offering sponsor covers and ads for the horse industry.

Andy Cashman, representing the Maryland State Fair, advised that the Budweiser Clydesdales would be at Timonium on April 6, 2019. He further noted that the State Fair will be having exhibits in the infield that afternoon. Mr. Cashman also reminded everyone of the two year old in training sale that would be held at Timonium on May 20th. Finally, Mr. Cashman advised that the OTB at the State Fair had been refurbished.

Commissioner Tammy Lafferty reminded everyone that there would be a Commissioners’ race at Rosecroft on April 28, 2019.

Jessica Hammond, representing the Beyond the Wire organization, which has successfully repurposed 170 retired race horses, thanked the Jockey Club for being responsive to their requests.

Next Commission Meeting.

The next Commission Meeting will be held on April 25, 2019 at 12:30 P.M. at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland 20725.

J. Michael Hopkins
Executive Director