Racing Survives In Maryland

Published: August 7, 2012 01:58 pm EDT

Penn National Gaming has agreed to a two-year contract extension to continue live harness racing at Rosecroft Raceway with the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association.

The final agreement was signed on August 3, 2012. The agreement provides for live harness racing to continue provided there is no casino approved for a location other than Rosecroft Raceway in Prince George’s County.

The agreement calls for maximum benefit for Maryland horsemen. Highlights of the agreement call for 100 percent of all races to be Maryland-preferred, 54 days of live racing to be conducted with two nights of racing per week, and a spring and fall meet. The spring and fall meet will provide Maryland horsemen with an extended opportunity for live racing which will result in almost year round live racing in Maryland.

“We appreciate Penn National being a great partner for the Maryland Standardbred industry. They are working closely with the horsemen to rebuild and revitalize the Standardbred industry here. The opportunity for Maryland horsemen to have a live racing calendar that begins in March and ends in December is a tremendous benefit. We are very grateful that Penn National is willing to stand with us and face the challenges of making the Standardbred industry great in spite of the fact that they receive no operating subsidies like other race tracks,” said Thomas Cooke, President of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association.

Christopher McErlean, Vice President of Racing stated, “We are very pleased to be working with the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association to make Maryland Standardbred racing great again. Our priority is to give Maryland horsemen the greatest opportunity possible to earn a living, grow their business and rebuild the industry. This does require a financial sacrifice from Penn National to maintain our commitment to the Maryland Standardbred industry but we are willing to take that risk. We could think of no better way to illustrate our commitment to the Maryland Standardbred industry as a whole than to commit to 100% of our races being Maryland preferred. We are proud to be in Maryland and pleased to be working with the horsemen.”

“I wish to thank Penn National for helping save harness racing in Maryland. Our breeding farms provide treasured green, open space and without these farms this beautiful land would become more housing developments. We cannot allow that to happen. Rosecroft is a vital part of the Maryland breeding program. If Rosecroft is closed and there is no place to race the horses the breeders will be forced to locate in other states. This is why Penn National’s commitment means so much. We must have Rosecroft operating to maintain a viable Standardbred industry,” said Ralph Hayward, President of the Maryland Standardbred Breeders Association.

Sharon Roberts, Executive Vice President of Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association said, “We are very hopeful that the future of Rosecroft Raceway and the Standardbred industry are considered when the special session convenes in Annapolis. A casino at National Harbor will be the final blow to Rosecroft and will destroy our industry. We are so disappointed that County Executive Baker would be willing to put the futures of our horsemen, the tracks employees and our breeding industry at risk just as we have begun to rebuild it.

"I hope our legislators will keep our futures in mind when they meet in special session and hope they understand that a casino at National Harbor kills Rosecroft. I hope that the legislature understands how important this decision is the future of the entire Standardbred industry. We are finally seeing our industry begin to thrive again and it would be terrible for that progress to end because a casino was placed at National Harbor.”