JC / Railbird

Maryland Mess

John Scheinman has a full report in the Thoroughbred Times on the apparently imminent end of Maryland racing. Here’s the kicker:

Asked if he believed the Preakness would be run next year, commission chairman Louis Ulman said, “I’d say no.”

That state is exploring all its legal options for saving racing dates and the Preakness Stakes. “That could involve seizing the tracks by eminent domain.”

10:30 AM Update: MTHA general counsel Alan Foreman tells the Blood-Horse: “This needs to be solved in the next 48 hours …

11:55 AM Update: Tentative agreement reached? That’s what Maryland governor Martin O’Malley’s office is telling reporters. (Confirmed. Details TK.)

12/23/10 Update: As Frank of That’s Amore Stable mentioned in a comment below, a compromise deal was reached on Wednesday. The Preakness has been saved; 146 days of racing have been scheduled for 2011. One aspect of the agreement that should please horseplayers is this — horsemen won’t be compelled to lobby for takeout increases, as MID-Penn was demanding earlier.

More from the Baltimore Sun: “The governor’s deal puts racing on life support for at least a year, but it doesn’t change an obviously poisonous ownership structure for the tracks that imperils racing’s long-term viability.”


it’s the economy and internet gambling that’s the problem. no one outside the industry cares about horseracing in any state. this has to be treated as a blessing in disguise. no maryland = more horses for the other tracks. no new jersey = more horses for the other tracks. the bottom line is this: MD and NJ are only concerned with slots revenue. why should they give to the tracks when they can keep it all for themselves.

Posted by palaceplace on December 22, 2010 @ 9:44 am

Scheinmann article:

>>What happens next is unclear. Foreman said the horsemen would accept a guarantee of 146 days of live racing in 2011 without conditions, save for the call to contribute to operating expenses

146 days of monotony? Maryland Racing could become stronger in the region with a 100 day or less format and a revamped owner/breeder awards thanks to the slots subsidies.

Instead we have a blatant example of greed on the part of the horsemen (again). Why am I not surprised.

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on December 22, 2010 @ 9:50 am

The (relatively few) people who are trying to pin this on the horsemen are utterly clueless as to what’s going on in Maryland. The truth is that the proposal advanced yesterday by the MJC contained several poison pills that no horsemen’s group in America would swallow, including giving up control of simulcasting. Moreover, the proposal was not for 146 days but for an unspecified number of days up to 146 at the sole discretion of the MJC, which could stop racing at any time for any reason. Horsemen have made lots of mistakes over the years, but to try to lay this impasse at their doorstep is simply nonsense.

Posted by Frank on December 22, 2010 @ 10:16 am

Frank reveals:

…no horsemen’s group in America would swallow, including giving up control of simulcasting.

This is a major problem in horse racing today.

Horsemen’s group controlling what racetracks ownership should be controlling. In this case, simulcasting rights.

The horsemen should strive to put on the show (live racing) but please exercise restraint when it comes to the other facets of running a racetrack. This applies not only to Maryland racing but other states as well.

Maryland has a golden opportunity to strengthen the product. Simulcasting rights should be a non-issue.

As for the static number of dates up to 146, I am sure there is a compromise there somewhere half-way. 50 dates at Pimlico and 50 dates at Laurel would make Maryland racing special again. That should be the goal.

Customers in the neighboring states look forward to Maryland racing regaining its lost luster after this impasse has been settled.

Posted by The_Knight_Sky on December 22, 2010 @ 11:32 am

Turns out there is a compromise, which is the tracks get access to additional slot moneys.

As for the simo rights, a) I couldn’t disagree more that the tracks should control it. If they did, they would be able to run roughshod over the horsemen on all issue. b) Don’t agree conceptually, either – the horsemen put on the show. We ought to have significant say over the use of our images, etc. and c) Regardless of what you or I think, that right is written into federal law (IHA).

Posted by Frank on December 22, 2010 @ 5:06 pm