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Minutes of Public Meeting - September 5, 2023

Commission Members Present:

Ellen Zavian

Ernie Grecco

Terry West

George Mahoney

Robert Lillis

Tammy Lafferty

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 September 5, 2023. Prior to the meeting, Acting Chairman Konrad Wayson 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 Wayson confirmed that all Commissioner members were either present at Laurel Park or participating by phone or computer.

Minutes – August 1, 2023.

The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting on August 1, 2023, and voted to approve them unanimously.

November Commission Meeting.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that Commissioner Mahoney had a conflict with the November 7, 2023 scheduled Commission meeting and was asking the Commission to consider moving the meeting to October 31, 2023. Mr. Hopkins further explained that moving the meeting would not be a problem and that normally the November meeting would be the last meeting of the year. After checking their schedules, the Commission decided to move the November 7th meeting to October 31, 2023. Having made that change, Mr. Hopkins informed the Commission and the racetracks that the 2024 racing date applications would have to be submitted to the Commission by its October 31, 2023 meeting for consideration, since the Commission is restricted by statute to approve any racing dates request on or after December 1st.

Proposed Regulations 09.10.02.43 and 09.10.02.53.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with two amended proposed regulations, 09.10.02.43 Foaled Stakes Program and 09.10.02.53 Sire Stakes Program. Mr. Hopkins explained that the amendments changed obsolete language, increased certain fees and provided clarifying language. Mr. Hopkins also reported that the Maryland Standardbred Breeders and Standardbred Owners had reviewed the proposals and were supportive of their adoption. The Maryland Standardbred Race Fund Administrator Cheri Stambaugh was available to answer any questions. Having none and hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the proposed amendments to regulations 09.10.02.43 and 09.10.02.53.

Maryland Jockey Club Update.

Mike Rogers, representing the Maryland Jockey Club (“MJC”), reported that the MJC had ongoing planning for the 38th running of the Maryland Million at Laurel Park on October 14, 2023. Further, Mr. Rogers advised that Opening Day at Pimlico would be September 8, 2023. He noted that on September 23rd, the MJC would be hosting a College Day at Pimlico and would be paying out $8,000.00 in scholarships to college students who attend the races that day. Further, Mr. Rogers explained that the MJC specifically named their annual race meetings to help promote and market the events. The names would be the Heritage meet (Laurel winter), Festival of Champions meet (Pimlico spring), Summer Fest meet (Laurel summer), Charm City meet (Pimlico fall) and Capital meet (Laurel fall). Commissioner Mahoney asked Mr. Rogers how many horses had to be euthanized during the Laurel summer meet. Mr. Rogers responded that one horse had to be euthanized. Mr. Mahoney also asked how the summer meet ended financially. Mr. Rogers responded that handle was down and the track operated at a loss. Lastly, Mr. Mahoney asked about the recent articles regarding changing the Preakness date to four weeks after the Kentucky Derby. Mr. Rogers responded that no decision has been made. Commissioner Lillis asked when that decision would be made, and Mr. Rogers responded that he believed no later than October 31, 2023. Commissioner Zavian asked Mr. Rogers about sponsorships. Mr. Rogers explained that 1st Racing had a team specifically focused on sponsorships, but also noted that obtaining those sponsorships were difficult. Ms. Zavian also asked about analytical data collected at the tracks from patrons, which Mr. Rogers responded that the MJC does collect data and would be happy to share that data with Commissioner Zavian.

Ocean Downs Update.

Bobbi Jones, representing Ocean Downs, reported that purses and handle had increased over the previous year.

Public Comments.

April Smith, representing Friends of Pimlico, read a brief statement regarding her perception of how the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (“MTHA”) is operated. Alan Foreman, representing the MTHA, responded to Ms. Smith’s statement and indicated that it was inaccurate. Mr. Foreman noted that if the Commission had any questions regarding the MTHA, he would provide the Commission with answers to those questions. Commissioner Lafferty commented to Mr. Forman that she had heard the thoroughbred industry was discussing the division of VLT revenues between the thoroughbred and standardbred industries, which included a reduction to the standardbred industry. Mr. Forman replied that he had no knowledge of those of discussions and that he was not aware of any thought to do so. Bill Reightler, representing the Maryland State Fair, reported on the success of the just concluded race meeting at the State Fair. Mr. Reightler also noted that Gerry Brewster would be stepping down as a Board Member in November of 2023 and thanked him for his many years of service to the State Fair.

Next Commission Meeting.

October 3, 2023, at Laurel Park starting at 12:30 P.M.

/s/ Konrad Wayson      

Acting Chairman