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Minutes of Public Meeting - October 2, 2023

Commission Members Present:

Ellen Zavian

Tammy Lafferty

Terry West

George Mahoney

Robert Lillis


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 §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 12:30 p.m. at Laurel Park on October 2, 2023. Prior to the meeting, Acting Chair Tammy Lafferty informed the public that their phones or computers should be muted, but she would give the public the opportunity to address the Commission during Public Comments. At the start of the meeting, Acting Chair Lafferty confirmed that a quorum of Commissioner members was either present at Laurel Park or participating by phone or computer, but advised that Ernie Grecco and Konrad Wayson were absent.

Minutes – September 5, 2023.

The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting on September 5, 2023, and voted to approve them unanimously.

Final Approval of and .17

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that regulation and regulation had been published in the Maryland Register for the required time for comment and that no comments had been received. Mr. Hopkins further advised that the amendments to would require that and additional 1.5% of the claiming price would be charged to the successful claimant and that those funds would go to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Program. The amendments to would permit a trainer to enter up to three horses in an overnight race, if there were at least six separate entries in the race. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved both regulations for final adoption with an effective date of January 1, 2024.

Satellite Simulcast Betting Permit Renewal

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a request from the Maryland Jockey Club to renew their nine Satellite Simulcast Betting permits for 2024. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the requests.

2024 Racing Date Requests. Ocean Downs; Fair Hill.

The Commission was presented a request from Ocean Downs to conduct 48 days of live racing during 2024, which is like the dates requested in 2023 and to import and export the standardbred, thoroughbred and quarter horse races they find marketable during the 2024 calendar year. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request. Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins also informed the Commission that he had received an e-mail from Charles Fenwick, who represents the Fair Hill Foundation, requesting up to four days of live steeplechase racing at Fair Hill during 2024. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Subcommittee Discussion - Commissioner Zavian

Commissioner Ellen Zavian asked if fellow Commission members would be willing to use their experiences with industry stakeholders through committee meetings and brainstorming sessions to develop strategies that would improve the marketing of the horse racing industry. Commissioner Zavian also commented that she is willing to meet with industry stakeholders personally to begin the process.

Update on Contract Negotiations

Mike Rogers, representing the Maryland Jockey Club (“MJC”), reported that there had not been any discussions with the horsemen and breeders in regard to extending the current agreement beyond December 31, 2023, but anticipated that those discussion would be taking place in the near future.

Maryland Jockey Club Update.

Mike Rogers reported that the MJC had hired Ken Brown as its track superintendent. Mr. Rogers further commented that Mr. Brown was familiar with the Maryland track surfaces, because of his previous work history with the MJC and was delighted Mr. Brown would be overseeing the track surfaces. Mr. Rogers commented that at the recent Pimlico race meet handle was slightly down and he attributed the decrease to weather related circumstances, particularly the cancellation of turf racing. In addition, Mr. Rogers commented that the current Laurel race meet was trending upward. He noted the Maryland Million had attracted 281 nominations, which was slightly less than the previous year and Rosecroft had opened its live race meet with the handle increasing. Commissioner George Mahoney informed Mr. Rogers that he had driven around the barn area at Laurel and found it in need of repairs and asked for the responsible person. Mr. Rogers responded that he would be responsible for any repairs to the backstretch and offered to meet Commissioner Mahoney on the backstretch and look at the specific areas where Commissioner Mahoney had concerns.

Ocean Downs Update.

Peter Szymanski, representing Ocean Downs, reported that purses and handle had increased over the previous year and that Ocean Downs had lost one day of live racing due to heavy rain.

Public Comments.

Cricket Goodall, representing the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, informed the Commission that tickets for the Maryland Million were on sale and that there would be a Charity auction the night before Maryland Million on October 13, 2023, at the Maryland Horse Breeders office and library in Reisterstown.

Next Commission Meeting.

October 31, 2023, at Laurel Park starting at 12:30 P.M.

/s/ Tammy Lafferty      

Acting Chair