MARYLAND COMMISSION REJECTS 2011 RACE DATES

by John Scheinman for the Thoroughbred Times

The Maryland Racing Commission on Monday rejected plans by the owners of Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course to run a sharply curtailed schedule of live racing in the state in 2011.

By unanimous vote of 8-0, the commission rejected a proposal by MI Developments and Penn National Gaming, partners in operating the Maryland Jockey Club, to run 17 live racing days at Laurel in January and then 30 more live days at Pimlico in April and May.

The rejected proposal, which would have cut more than 100 days of live Thoroughbred racing from the calendar, was developed in the wake of a vote on Election Day authorizing a referendum to permit the construction of a slot machine facility at a shopping mall in Anne Arundel County near Laurel Park.

“It’s unconscionable for you not to come in here with a year-round plan for Maryland racing,” commission member David Hayden said to loud applause.

The commission’s decision throws into doubt the immediate future of Maryland racing, simulcasting and off-track betting sites, racetrack employees, horsemen and, the middle jewel in the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes (G1).

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