Minutes of Public Meeting - May 2, 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 Laurel Park on May 2, 2023. Prior to the meeting, Chairman Michael Algeo 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 Algeo confirmed that all Commissioner members were either present at Laurel or participating by phone or computer.
Minutes –April 4, 2023.
The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting on April 4, 2023, and voted to approve them. Commissioners West and Mahoney abstained from the vote, as they were not on the Commission at the April meeting, but all other members of the Commission voted in favor of approving the minutes.
Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that the original start date for the Anti-Doping program from HISA had been delayed from May 1 until May 22, 2023. Mr. Hopkins also commented that all trainers should make themselves familiar with the new rules. Further, Mr. Hopkins advised that the Commission would no longer be adjudicating thoroughbred medication cases once the HISA Anti-Doping program started.
2022 Audited Financial Statements.
J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that each year the racetracks are required to submit their audited financial statements to the Commission. Mr. Hopkins continued by stating that if the Commission had any questions regarding the statements he provided the Commission, the Commission members could ask questions related to the submitted Statements. Commissioner Konrad Wayson commented that in prior years the Preakness would generate enough revenue to cover the losses for both Laurel and Pimlico. Commissioner Wayson asked why the expenses had almost doubled between 2021 and 2022, while revenue did not change much. Mike Rogers, representing the Maryland Jockey Club, was asked to comment. Mr. Rogers advised that the increase in cost was due to the expense of contracting with more expensive talent to attract a younger demographic to Pimlico.
Maryland Jockey Club Requests.
Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a request from the Maryland Jockey Club for its summer race meeting at Laurel Park beginning June 5, 2023 and ending on June 30, 2023. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the requests. Also being requested from the Maryland Jockey Club was the approval of Lien Games as an additional Account Wagering entity. Hearing no objection, the Commission also unanimously approved the request.
In addition to the previous requests, Mr. Hopkins asked the Commission to ratify a telephone poll he had taken regarding the authorization to allow Laurel Park to re-open on April 29, 2023. Mr. Hopkins advised that after the Commission had received a written report from John Passero, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association track expert, stating that the track surface was, in his opinion, safe to conduct racing, a telephone poll was taken of the Commission members. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously ratified the telephone poll.
Maryland Jockey Club Update.
Mike Rogers, representing the Maryland Jockey Club, reported that John Passero has been on site working very well with their track crew and made recommendations that had been accepted by the Maryland Jockey Club. Mr. Rogers also commented that the new Preakness Future Pool was gaining interest. He also noted that he was anticipating an excellent card for Preakness Day. Mr. Rogers advised that ticket sales had increased when it was announced that Bruno Mars would be holding a concert at 8 P.M. on Preakness Day, after racing had concluded.
Commissioner George Mahoney asked what changes were made to the track surface and whether the issues were in an isolated area or throughout the track. Mr. Rogers responded that the Maryland Jockey Club believes the track conditions were acceptable, but that Mr. Passero had recommended some changes to the harrows and other minor adjustments to which the Jockey Club agreed to perform. Mr. Rogers also stated that the issues did not occur in the same area of the track and that the recommendations by Mr. Passero were for the entire track.
Ocean Downs Update.
Bobbi Sample reported that Ocean Downs was continuing to prepare for its opening on Memorial Day and that training had started the prior week. Ms. Sample stated that she would have a calendar of events for the Commission at its next meeting.
Frank Vespe announced that the Racing Biz and the Baltimore Banner had come to an agreement to share content. William Morrison, a member of Horse Racing Wrongs, requested the Commission pursue the abolishment of horse racing in the state. April Smith, representing Friends of Pimlico, commented that with the recent issues with Laurel Park, any plans to do away with or change the historic Pimlico oval should be discarded. Cricket Goodall commented that at the Maryland Horse Breeders office in Reisterstown will hold a discussion at their facility with Beyond the Wire about retired racehorses and that the public is welcome on May 22, 2023. Andy Cashman, representing the Maryland State Fair, commented that the 2-year-old in training sale was looking great and that the Off-Track Betting at Timonium was sold out for Derby weekend.
Next Commission Meeting.
June 6, 2023, at Laurel Park Race starting at 12:30 P.M.
/s/ Michael Algeo