Minutes of Public Meeting - August 1, 2023
Commission Members Present:
Staff Present Representing the Maryland Racing Commission:J. Michael Hopkins
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 Ocean Downs on August 1, 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 Ocean Downs or participating by phone or computer. Commissioner Ellen Zavian introduced herself to the public, advising that she has been a sports law professor at George Washington University for thirty years. Commissioner Zavian indicated that she looked forward to serving as a Commission member.
Minutes – June 6, 2023.
The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting on June 6, 2023, and voted to approve them unanimously.Maryland State Fair Race Meeting Requests.
Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that he had received a revised request from the Maryland State Fair for its summer race meeting being held between August 25 and September 4, 2023, including requests for simulcasting, intertrack wagering and other racing related requests. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the revised request. Commissioner Lillis suggested that next year the Timonium Meet at the State Fair should run live racing all days of the fair including the third weekend. Mr. Lillis ask the fair officials and horsemen to give it some thought, then explained how the current Condition Book could work for participating Maryland horsemen if the same races of the 1st weekend were brought back two weeks later.
Maryland Bred Race Fund Advisory Committee.
J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that he had received the nominations from the thoroughbred industry to serve on the Maryland Bred Race Fund Advisory Committee, including the acceptance from Commissioner Terry West to serve as the Committee Chair. Mr. Hopkins further noted that Georganne Hale would be the mile track representative, Christy Holden and Katy Voss would represent the Breeders, Tim Keefe would represent the horsemen and Bill Reightler would represent the half mile track. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the nominations.
Maryland Bred Race Fund Projections.
J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with the recommendation from the Maryland Horse Breeders Association for the Maryland Bred Fund Bonus Program through December 31, 2023. Mr. Hopkins further stated that the percentages would remain the same with the expectation that any surplus in the Fund would be exhausted by December 31, 2023, using the current revenue projections. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the recommendations for the Maryland Bred Fund Bonus Program.
Maryland Standardbred Race Fund Advisory Committee.
Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners’ Association had submitted Michael Hall to represent the Standardbred owners. Mr. Hopkins also advised that Lisa Watts and Bobbi Jones would represent Rosecroft and Ocean Downs and Tom Cooke would represent the Standardbred Breeders on the Committee. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the recommendations.
Maryland Jockey Club Rosecroft Requests.
Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a request from the Maryland Jockey Club for its fall race meeting at Rosecroft Raceway beginning September 1, 2023 and ending on December 31, 2023. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the requests.
Maryland Jockey Club Pimlico Request.
Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a request from the Maryland Jockey Club for its fall race meeting at Pimlico Race Course to include August 29, 2023 and September 5, 2023 through September 24, 2023. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the requests.
Maryland Jockey Club Laurel Park Request.
Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a request from the Maryland Jockey Club for its fall race meeting at Laurel Park beginning September 25, 2023 through December 31, 2023. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the requests.
Maryland Jockey Club - Premier Turf Club.
Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that he had received a request from the Maryland Jockey Club to approve the Premier Turf Club as an Account Wagering entity. Mr. Hopkins further stated that Premier Turf Club had provided the required signed documents as well as an irrevocable letter of credit. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request. Mr. Hopkins further advised that the horsemen would be reviewing all the account wagering entities contracts before 2024.
Maryland Jockey Club Update.
Mike Rogers, representing the Maryland Jockey Club (“MJC”), reported that the Maryland Jockey Club was planning the 38th running of the Maryland Million at Laurel Park on October 14, 2023. He further advised the Commission regarding the Moon Rise Concert at Pimlico on August 12 and 13, a handicapping contest at Laurel Park on August 19, 2023 and the opening of Rosecroft for live racing on September 19, 2023. Commissioner Bobby Lillis commented that he was not happy with the 6-month extension and that he was concerned about the employees of Pimlico, who will not move to Laurel when Pimlico closes. Mr. Rogers responded that the MJC is working with the horsemen to ensure the employees are being accommodated as best as possible. Commissioner Mahoney asked who would be maintaining the facility when all the horses are moved to Laurel. Mr. Rogers responded that there would be facility staff and security at the track when it closed for training. Chairman Wayson asked when the tent barn at Laurel would be available to house horses. Mr. Rogers responded that he was estimating the barn would be ready by the end of August. Commissioner Wayson asked about the cancellation of races during the high heat on July 28, 2023. Mr. Rogers responded that the MJC has protocols in place using the wet bulb method. Both days, the 28th and 29th, the wet bulb method indicated that it would have been safe to run, but it was decided to cancel on the 28th and have more people in place on the 29th in case they were needed. Trainer Lori Testerman expressed her concern about the additional 200 horses that will be training at Laurel when Pimlico closes as well as for the employees, including the grooms and hot walkers. She also noted that additional horses would be coming to Maryland when other out of state tracks close.
Ocean Downs Update.
Bobbi Sample thanked the Commission members for participating in the Commissioners race and that she would be leaving Ocean Downs to take a position with Churchill Downs in Virginia. Ms. Sample advised that Bobbi Jones would be replacing her at Rosecroft. Ms. Sample reported a slight increase in Maryland bred horses and purses. Ms. Sample continued that the race meet was on track to be a successful event. Ms. Sample then showed a video to the Commission of the highlights of the Meet. Bobby Lillis thanked Ms. Sample for the opportunity to participate in the Commissioners race.
Commissioner Konrad Wayson thanked Bobbie Sample for hosting the meeting. Mr. Wayson also thanked former Chairman Michael Algeo and Commissioner Emmitt Davitt for their service to the Maryland Racing Commission and advised the public that both had resigned as Commission members. April Smith, representing Friends of Pimlico, read from a written statement expressing her passion for Pimlico and horseracing. Ms. Smith also expressed her concern over the representation that the Pimlico horsemen receive from their organization. Cricket Goodall announced the induction of new members of the Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame on September 2, 2023 at Timonium. She also noted that Maryland Million would be run at Laurel Park on October 14, 2023.
Next Commission Meeting.
September 5, 2023, at Laurel Park starting at 12:30 P.M.
/s/ Konrad Wayson