Down To The Wire In Maryland

The case for racing in Maryland in 2011 goes before the Maryland Racing Commission today, with veteran commissioner John Franzone saying he does not have high hopes for resolution of disputes


Even as Frank Stronach arrived on the scene to add his strength to negotiations, horsemen and management, and management itself, seems divided.

Stronach’s MI Developments and Penn National Gaming, which jointly own the Maryland Jockey Club, have amended their rejected appeals for 47 days of racing and now are agreed on a full schedule of 146 days, provided the horsemen agree to certain caveats. Those include, according to Franzone, horsemen contributing $1.7 million toward track operating expenses; giving up certain simulcasting rights; and supporting the closing of the training centre at Bowie.

Attorney Alan Foreman, the horsemen’s leader, called those demands “posturing,” and said his group will insist on 146 days of live racing.

MI Developments and Penn National say they are losing $4 million to $7 million on their Laurel operations, and Pimlico surviving only on its Preakness profits.

The racing commission turned down the 47-day request earlier, and today’s meeting is its final of the year, with no racing schedule for next year as the discussions begin.

Foreman says the dispute is more than an industry fight between horsemen and tracks. He says it’s far larger.

(Harness Tracks of America)