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Minutes of Public Meeting - September 19, 2019

Commission Members Present:

Michael Algeo
David Hayden
Thomas Bowman
Clarissa Coughlin
Tammy Lafferty
Tom Winebrener

Members Absent:

Ernie Grecco
Konrad Wayson

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 September 19, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. at the Great Frederick Fair. Chairman Mike Algeo welcomed the public and thanked Colby Hubble and Jacqui Nigh for inviting the Commission back to the Great Frederick Fair.

Minutes – August 16, 2019

The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its August 16, 2019 meeting and voted unanimously to approve them.

Final Approval Future Wager.

J. Michael Hopkins, Executive Director of the Commission, advised the Commission that the “Future Wager” regulation, COMAR, which had been published in the Maryland Register for the required amount of time and that had not received any public comments was ready for a vote for final approval. Hearing no objection, Chairman Algeo asked for a motion to approve the regulation for final adoption.  The Commission unanimously approved the regulation for final adoption.

Maryland Jockey Club SSBF Renewals.

Mr. Hopkins reported that he had received a request from the Maryland Jockey Club to renew all nine of its Satellite Simulcast Betting Permits for 2020. Hearing no objection, Chairman Algeo requested a motion to approve the request and the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland Jockey Club – Update

Sal Sinatra, representing the Maryland Jockey Club (“MJC”), reported that the MJC has been busy coordinating with the Maryland Horse Breeders for Maryland Million Day. Mr. Sinatra also reported that a surveyor has been hired to review the water system at Pimlico and that during the survey another water main break was discovered, which was near the water main break in the parking lot that occurred during Preakness week. Mr. Sinatra further commented that all permits have been received for Maryland Million Day. Mr. Sinatra also reported that the discussions between Baltimore City and the MJC are continuing regarding Pimlico.

Public Comments.

Jim Steele of Shamrock Farm commented that in light of the recent articles written about the Commission, he wanted to thank the Commission for their service to the industry and the citizens of Maryland. Chairman Algeo thanked Mr. Steele and commented that during his time on the Commission he has met some wonderful people in the racing industry. Chairman Algeo further commented that sometimes the industry gets into battles amongst themselves, which are not productive. Chairman Algeo noted that the Commission would take responsibility for any justified criticism, but noted that the Commission are all volunteers and doing their best for the industry and the State.

Bill Reightler, representing the Maryland State Fair, thanked their industry partners for helping run their recent race meeting. Mr. Reighter commented that the  State Fair saw a 4.3% increase in attendance, with 591,000 people attending the Fair. The race meeting revenues were up 7% from the previous years. Handle was off 12%, which, according to Mr. Reightler, could be attributed to 60 less horses running during the race meet. Mr. Reightler advised that the State Fair was a good place to introduce new people to racing. On College Day, the State Fair had over 100 applications for $10,000.00 of scholarship monies.

Cheri Stambaugh advised that on September 21, 2019, at the Great Frederick Fair, “Foiled Again”, the highest money earning Standardbred would be at the Great Frederick Fair and on display in between the races.

April Smith of “Friends of Pimlico” informed the Commission that she had written to Alan Rifkin, Bill Cole and Alan Foreman regarding their negotiations and provided a copy of the letter to the Commission for the record in response to a letter the Commission had received from Alan Rifkin in August. The letter stated the following:

“Dear Messrs.Rifkin,Foreman and Cole,

I attended the August MRC meeting at Ocean Downs and was happy to hear your letter of 8/13 read aloud. As you know, it reiterated your testimony at the June meeting of diligently working together to achieve a long term plan for the two thoroughbred race tracks in Maryland. In your letter you asked for the Commission's patience. I am sure that they, like me, certainly want you to get it right.

To that end, I hope you will consider more than just "year round sustainable racing at Laurel Park" only. Many of us think that a longer meet at Pimlico would be worthwhile too. Besides a well-respected training track, it could be a tour destination for tourists and locals alike. Especially if the long promised Racing Archive/Library Lecture Hall is installed. With neighboring Mount Washington becoming a National Heritage Area, having the second oldest racecourse in the U.S. right there is such a boon, that is, as long as it is a REAL race course.

It seems that being in an Opportunity Zone can be a mixed blessing. Although monies are suddenly made available for development, it also encourages people, with little care for the end product, to jump in. Before you know it, the one asset that has made the area unique has been destroyed. As one commission member said, “When it is gone, there is no going back."

This is an intensely important plan that you have been asked to come up with. This is not just another urban renewal project. It is a stratagem that will decide the future of the American Triple Crown race series (very possibly the only time the general public even sees a horse race.) Horse racing needs the Preakness and the Preakness needs Pimlico. Your decision will be your legacy.

Thank you for your interest and concern in these matters.

April I. Smith
Friends of Pimlico
Sept. 9th, 2019”

Cricket Goodall provided information for Maryland Million Day, scheduled for October 19, 2019 and encouraged everyone to get to Laurel Park early, as parking will be at a premium.

Jacki Nigh from the Great Frederick Fair thanked everyone for coming to the Great Frederick Fair for the meeting.

Next Commission Meeting

The next Commission Meeting will be held on October 24, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland.

J. Michael Hopkins
Executive Director