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Minutes of Public Meeting - October 4, 2022

Commission Members Present:

Michael Algeo
Ernie Grecco
David Hayden
Thomas Bowman
Emmet Davitt
Konrad Wayson
Robert Lillis
Tammy Lafferty

Members Absent:

Thomas Winebrenner

Staff Present Representing the Maryland Racing Commission:

J. Michael Hopkins
Executive Director

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 October 4, 2022. 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 took a roll call of the Commission members and advised that Commissioners Tom Winebrenner, David Hayden and Ernie Grecco were absent.  Chairman Algeo confirmed that all other Commissioner members were present at Laurel, with Commissioners Emmet Davitt and Tom Bowman participating by phone. Commissioner Ernie Grecco was late to the meeting and Chairman Algeo noted on the record that Mr. Grecco was present at around 12:45 p.m.   Commissioner David Hayden called the Executive Director and confirmed he was on the call, but was having problems with his audio.

Minutes – September 6, 2022.

The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting on September 6, 2022 and voted unanimously to approve the minutes. Chairman Algeo abstained from voting, as he was not present at the September meeting.

HISA – Request for Furosemide Exemption in Thoroughbred Racing.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins explained to the Commission that when the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Act was passed by Congress in 2020, the legislation mandated that the administration of furosemide to a horse on race day be prohibited. HISA carved out an exemption for State Commissions allowing furosemide to be administered on race day for all races, except 2-year-old races and stake races as defined by HISA. Mr. Hopkins further informed the Commission that unless the Commission requested the exemption, the HISA statute would take effect January 1, 2023. Commissioner Tom Bowman asked what logic was used to expand the restriction beyond graded stake races to all stake races. Mr. Hopkins could not explain the exact logic used by HISA, but noted there was ample opportunity for comments to their rules.   Alan Foreman representing the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association commented that during the time the Federal legislation was being considered several constituencies argued not to expand the prohibition to all stake races and only include graded stake races. Mr. Foreman advised that those efforts to amend the language failed. Chairman Algeo asked the Commission if they had any further questions.  Hearing none, Chairman Algeo called for a motion to grant the exemption for furosemide. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the motion to have the exemption for the use of furosemide for all races, but for 2 year-old races and graded stake races.   Further, Chairman Algeo instructed Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins to submit the request to HISA. 

Maryland Jockey Club – Fall Racing Days.

The Maryland Jockey Club submitted a request to change the Laurel Fall race meeting live schedule in November. Originally scheduled to run live racing on Thursdays in November, the Maryland Jockey Club was asking to change the Thursdays to Mondays. Hearing no objection, The Commission unanimously approved the request.

2023 Racing Dates.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins provided the Commission members with the following 2023 racing date requests:

Laurel Park:

January 1, 2023 through March 31, 2023; April 1 through May 7, 2023; June 5 through August 24, 2023 and August 29, 2023; and October 2 through December 31, 2023.

Pimlico Race Course:

May 8 through June 4, 2023; and September 5 through October 1, 2023;

Maryland State Fair: 10 Days

August 25 through September 4, 2023;

Fair Hill:

4 days with specific dates to be determined.

Ocean Downs: 48 days

January 1 through May 27, 2023; May 28 through September 6, 2023; and September 7 through December 31, 2023;

Prince Georges Racing Ventures, Inc. (Rosecroft): 60 Days

January 1 through March 31, 2023; April 1 through May 31, 2023; June 1 through August 31, 2023; and September 1 through December 31, 2023.

Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved each request separately.

Satellite Simulcast Betting Permit Renewals.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with nine requests from the Maryland Jockey Club to renew their existing Satellite Simulcast Betting Permits for 2023. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the requests.

Maryland Jockey Club – Update.

Mike Rogers, representing the Maryland Jockey Club (“MJC”), reported that the MJC was looking forward to a successful Maryland Million Day on October 22nd. Mr. Rogers also thanked the Commission for allowing the change from Thursdays to Mondays of Laurel’s racing schedule in November.

Ocean Downs RFRA Request.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins explained to the Commission members that Ocean Downs had submitted a revised capital improvement plan to the Commission in May 2022, which included 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. At that time, Mr. Hopkins continued that the Commission approved the plan, but not the specific expenses in the plan. Mr. Hopkins further explained that Ocean Downs had submitted a request for reimbursement of expenses, which has been reviewed by the Commission’s Certified Public Accountant. That review has been completed and was being presented to the Commission for consideration. That review identified a number of capital expenses that qualify and are eligible for reimbursement for 2018 and 2019. The report did not allow for expenses by Ocean Downs in 2020 and 2021, because Ocean Downs did not satisfy the statutory requirement of having expensed at least $300,000.00 during the calendar year and, therefore, that portion of the request was not considered eligible for RFRA funds. Therefore, the request for reimbursement does not include any capital expenses incurred during 2020 or 2021 and only includes capital improvements in 2018 and 2019 for a total of $634,521.00 from RFRA. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Ocean Downs Update.

Bobbi Sample reported that Ocean Downs is planning for the same schedule of racing next year as 2022.  Chairman Algeo, who was no present at the September meeting, thanked Ms. Sample for hosting the August MRC meeting at Ocean Downs.   

April Smith – Friends of Pimlico.

April Smith representing the Friends of Pimlico, read a prepared statement concerning the redevelopment plan for Pimlico, which included comments regarding the Commission authority and the loss of history if the current plan was to move forward. After reading her statement, Chairman Algeo thanked Ms. Smith for the presentation and informed her that the Commission does not have any authority over the reconstruction of Pimlico and that authority rests in the hands of the state legislature and Stadium Authority.

Public Comments.

Marylyn Bobby, also with Friends of Pimlico, echoed Ms. Smith’s comments.  Mary Beth Kalinich, another member of Friends of Pimlico, commented that she agrees with Smith regarding the potential reorientation of the track at Pimlico and believes the Commission should take a more active role in preserving the current orientation of the track.

Andy Cashman, representing the Maryland State Fair, reported the Timonium horse sale was doing well and thanked Mr. Hopkins for allowing him to amend the 2023 Maryland State Fair racing date request.

Next Commission Meeting.

November 1, 2022, at Laurel Park Race starting at 12:30 P.M.

/s/ Michael Algeo