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Minutes of Public Meeting - December 20, 2016

Commission Members Present:

Michael Algeo, Chairman
Tammy Lafferty
Konrad Wayson
Ernest Grecco
Tom Winebrener
Dr. Thomas Bowman
David Hayden

Members Absent:
Ronald Thomas

Staff Present Representing the Maryland Racing Commission:

J. Michael Hopkins

Executive Director
Eric B. London
Assistant Attorney General

In accordance with the Notice of Public Meeting, as required by §3-302, General Provisions Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, the Maryland Racing Commission (“Commission”) met in open session on December 20, 2016, commencing at 12:30 p.m. at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland.

Newly appointed Chairman, Michael Algeo, introduced himself and welcomed the public to his first meeting. Chairman Algeo thanked Governor Hogan for his appointment and assured the industry stakeholders that the direction the industry has been headed will continue under his Chairmanship, while keeping “peace in the valley”. Chairman Algeo also thanked the previous Chairman, John McDaniel, for his time and hard work. He also thanked Eric London, Counsel to the Commission, and Executive Director Mike Hopkins for meeting with him prior to the monthly meeting for a briefing on current issues.

Minutes – November 15, 2016.

The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting of November 15, 2016, and voted unanimously to approve them.

Maryland Bred Fund.

The Commission was presented with a request from the Maryland Bred Fund Advisory Committee to keep the current bonus percentages for Breeder and Stallion awards at 30% and 10% respectively for the next six months and to add up to four additional restricted stake races with a purse of $75,000.00 each. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the requests.

Sage Policy Group.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins introduced Aniban Basu from the Sage Policy Group, which had performed an economic survey of the Maryland horse industry earlier in the year. Mr. Basu reported that the survey was a follow-up survey to a survey conducted in 2010. The results indicate that in 2015 the Maryland horse industry directly supported 5,800 full time jobs and after applying multiplier effects, the total full time jobs equals 9,100 individuals, which equates into approximately a half billion dollars in wage and salary income. The survey also revealed that the total economic activity in 2010 of $930 million dollars has increased to $1.15 billion dollars in 2015 and is expected to grow to $1.5 billion dollars by 2020. Cricket Goodall representing the Maryland Horse Breeders Association commented that the survey was an industry wide effort and that she wanted to thank all those organizations that participated.

Chairman John McDaniel.

Chairman John McDaniel wanted to thank everyone in the industry for their spirit of cooperation during the goods times and not so good times over the past thirty years. Chairman Algeo thanked Mr. McDaniel for his service and for making himself available to discuss industry issues.

Maryland Jockey Injury Compensation Fund - 2017.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins asked the Commission to approve the Workers’ Compensation policy that the Willis Insurance Group has provided for the licensed jockeys in Maryland. The premium provided is a quote from Chesapeake Insurance for $823,527.00, which is actually less than the 2016 premium. The Commission unanimously approved the request.

Proposed Regulation – Multiple Medication Point System.

The Commission was provided with amendments to COMAR, which alters the number of multiple medication points assigned to a trainer who has had a medication violation, allows discretion when applying an additional suspension, recognizes environmental contamination and alters the amount of time when points would expire from a trainer’s record. Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that these changes reflect the recommendations of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and the Association of Racing Commissioners International. In addition to being submitted as proposed, Mr. Hopkins recommended that they also be moved on an emergency basis to limit any unintended consequences of the regulations currently in place. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the requests.

Maryland Jockey Club – 2017 Winter Race Meet.

The Commission was presented with a request from the Maryland Jockey Club to approve its 2017 winter stake schedule. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland Jockey Club – Racing Facility Redevelopment Fund.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins reported the he had received a request from the Maryland Jockey Club for reimbursement of $1,318,405.00 for qualified capital projects from the Racing Facility Redevelopment Fund. Mr. Hopkins further reported that the request had been reviewed by Gegorek and Company, the Commission’s accountant, as required by law. The improvements include the elevator at Laurel Park, lighting, furniture and equipment, landscaping roofing and other improvements. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland Jockey Club Update.

Sal Sinatra, representing the Maryland Jockey Club, reported that the construction of the new barns at Laurel Park was on schedule and a number of other initiatives, such as fencing and landscaping continue. Mr. Sinatra noted that the Maryland Jockey Club continue to work with the breeders and horseman to develop an “Industry Day” in March. Commissioner David Hayden asked about the Pimlico race meeting. Mr. Sinatra responded that the race meet will consist of 12 live days and that the reasoning behind the limited schedule has been due to a number of complaints that were received by customers who could not view the entire race because of the tents in the infield that are used on Preakness day. Commissioner Tom Winebrener asked about the Maryland Jockey Club’s Rosecroft facility. Mr. Sinatra reported they had signed a two year contract with the Horsemen and the Maryland Jockey Club continues to develop Rosecroft and look at ways to grow the standardbred handle.

Maryland Standardbred Race Fund 2017 Stake Schedule.

Cheri Stambaugh, Administrator of the Maryland Standardbred Race Fund, presented the Commission with the 2017 Maryland Standardbred Bred Race Fund Stake program for their approval. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association – Tom Cooke.

Tom Cook representing the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners’ Association noted the passing of Joe Lewis, who had been a long time employee in the harness industry. Mr. Cook also commented that 2016 had been a good year for the harness industry, including the $100,000.00 Potomac Pace in November. Mr. Cook suggested that the Commission should consider imposing a penalty on the horse, for violating the drug testing regulations, as many sanctioned trainers move their horses to another barn after a drug violation.

November VLT Report.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a VLT report from the month of November and noted no substantial change for the same period from 2015. Mr. Hopkins also reported that the MGM Casino located in Prince George’s County opened on December 8, 2016 and that not enough time has passed to evaluate the impact of the new Casino.

Public Comments.

Robert Lillis representing the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Assistance Fund informed the Commission and public that a long time horseman and employee of the Maryland Jockey Club, Joe Miller, had suddenly passed away. Kevin O’Keefe, a member of the wagering public, noted that winning wagers at Ocean Downs could not be cashed at Laurel and also noted that in order to collect winnings at Ocean Downs, when the payoff is over 300 to 1 an individual is required to show their social security card. The Commission advised Mr. O’Keefe that they would look into his concerns.

Next Commission Meeting.

The next Commission meeting will be held on January 17, 2017, at 12:30 P.M. in the Clubhouse at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland.

J. Michael Hopkins
Executive Director