Minutes of Public Meeting - August 18, 2022
Commission Members Present:
Staff Present Representing the Maryland Racing Commission:J. Michael Hopkins
Eric B. London
Assistant Attorney General
In accordance with §3-302, General Provisions Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, the Maryland Racing Commission (“Commission”) met in person and by conference call in open session at 12:45 p.m. at Ocean Downs on August 18, 2022. Prior to the meeting, Chairman Michael Algeo informed the public that their phones or computers should be muted, but he would give the public the opportunity to address the Commission during Public Comments. At the start of the meeting, Chairman Algeo took a roll call of the Commission members and confirmed that all Commissioner members were present, except Commissioner Ernie Grecco. Mr. Grecco participated by phone.
Before beginning the meeting, Chairman Algeo apologized for not starting on time, but thanked Churchill Downs and Bill Rickman for hosting a lunch meeting.
Minutes – June 7, 2022.
The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting on June 7, 2022 and voted unanimously to approve the minutes.
Minutes – Executive Session June 7, 2022.
The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its Executive Session meeting on June 7, 2022 and voted unanimously to approve the minutes.
Regulations – Final Approval 09.10.01.84 and .88; 09.10.02.08, .25 and .33.
Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that the thoroughbred amendments to COMAR 09.10.01.04 and .88 had been published for the required period of time and that no comments had been received. Mr. Hopkins further explained that the amendments would allow a patron the option to select their own substitute in a “Pick N” wager if their original selection was scratched. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request to adopt the regulations as final. Mr. Hopkins further commented that the Standardbred amendments to COMAR 09.10.02.08, .25 and .33 had also been published for the required period of time and that no comments had been received. Mr. Hopkins advised that these amendments would allow the Standardbred tracks to separate betting interests, provide for the voiding of a claim under certain circumstances and defined the manner in which a whip could be used during a Standardbred race. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the amendments for final adoption.
Rosecroft – Fall Race Meeting Requests.
The Commission was provided with a number of requests from Rosecroft Raceway for their Fall race meeting beginning on September 1, 2022 and running through December 31, 2022. The race meeting would provide for 60 days of live racing to be run on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The request also included permission to import and export the races they found marketable, common pool wagering and simulcasting of their races to out of state facilities. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.
Maryland Jockey Club – Laurel Fall Race Meeting Requests.
The Commission was provided with a number of requests from the Maryland Jockey Club for its Fall race meeting at Laurel Park beginning on September 26, 2022 and running through December 31, 2022. The race meeting would provide for 48 days of live racing to be run Thursday through Sundays in September through November and Friday through Sunday in December. The request also included permission to import and export the races they found marketable, common pool wagering and simulcasting of their races to out of state facilities. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.
Maryland Jockey Club – Update.
Mike Rogers, representing the Maryland Jockey Club (“MJC”), reported that the MJC had scheduled track repairs at Laurel beginning the week of August 22, 2022. Mr. Rogers continued that the MJC has a good relationship with the horsemen and continue to receive feedback on the track surface. Commissioner Tammy Lafferty commented that she had been told that Rosecroft was not for sale and then recently found out that the track was being sold and was disappointed in how it was handled. Ms. Lafferty continued asking if there were any updates on the sale. Mike Rogers responded that when Commissioner Lafferty had asked him the question of the sale at a prior meeting, he was not aware of any transaction for the sale of Rosecroft taking place. Mr. Rogers advised that when he did become aware of the pending sale, he began to notify people. As for any updates on the sale, Mr. Rogers commented that he believed the due diligence period for the prospective buyer was ending on August 26, 2022. Chairman Algeo asked about Maryland Million Day. Mike Rogers responded that their marketing plan was in place and that the MJC was in contact with Cricket Goodall of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association.
Ocean Downs Update.
Bobbi Sample reported that Ocean Downs, which is owned by Churchill Downs, had three weeks left of racing. She advised that two days of racing had been cancelled due to heat and lightning. She noted that on track handle is down 18.7 %, which Ocean Downs believes is due to the dining area not being open. She also noted the exporting of their signal is up 37.1% for a net increase of overall wagering. Ms. Sample also reported that Ocean Downs has held several special events during the live racing nights that have increased attendance. Ms. Sample continued by showing the Commission a slide show of the special events that Ocean Downs has had during the race meeting. Ms. Sample also thanked the drivers for helping with the special events. Commissioner Lillis asked Ms. Sample if Ocean Downs would pick up any more racing days in the event Rosecroft is sold. Ms. Sample responded that they have been evaluating that possibility.
Chairman Algeo commented that there were a few items not on the agenda that had come to his attention. One of which is the pending sale of Rosecroft and the importance of the Standardbred industry. Chairman Algeo received a statement from Commissioner Tom Winebrenner who had asked the statement be read into the record, which Chairman Algeo agreed to do:
“The Maryland Racing Commission recognizes the important role that the Maryland Standardbred Industry serves in the State of Maryland. From owning and leasing farms, equipment, horses, breeding farms, hiring trainers, drivers and grooms, the Industry plays an important part in the Maryland economy. While the Commission has been made aware of the proposed sale of Rosecroft Raceway (established in 1949), the Commission is mindful that beyond the sale, Ocean Downs will continue to offer important opportunities to the Maryland Standardbred Industry. Today, the Maryland Racing Commission goes on the record as expressing its support for the Maryland Standardbred Industry and all that it offers to the State of Maryland.”
Commissioner Winebrener made a motion to adopt the statement as part of the Maryland Racing Commission record. Commissioner Lafferty seconded the motion. The Commission voted unanimously to adopt the motion.
Safety and Welfare Committee.
Dr. Tomas Bowman as Chairman of the Committee advised that he had met with smaller groups of the Committee regarding the reporting of injuries that occur on the racetrack, primarily soft tissue injuries. Dr. Bowman advised that approximately 2 months ago a smaller group of the Committee met to create a simplified reporting process. Unfortunately, the reporting of these injuries has not occurred as expected. Dr. Bowman continued by commenting that shortly after the first of September, he would be calling the full Committee together and develop a process of accountability for the reporting of these injuries. Chairman Algeo thanked Dr. Bowman for his report.
April Smith, representing the Friends of Pimlico, expressed her concern of the planned reorientation of the Pimlico racetrack. Ms. Smith provided the Commission a handout developed by Highlander Contracting without changing the racetrack oval.
Next Commission Meeting.
September 6, 2022, at Pimlico Race Course starting at 12:30 P.M.
/s/Michael J. Algeo