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Governor O’Malley Applauds Agreement Supporting Maryland’s Racing Industry

ANNAPOLIS, MD  – Governor Martin O’Malley today thanked the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC), the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA), the Maryland Horse Breeders Association (MHBA), and the Maryland Racing Commission for their work to reach a 10-year agreement for sustained racing at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park.

“Today is a great day for Maryland’s racing industry.  When my office helped broker a deal in 2010 that would temporarily sustain the industry, I was confident that all the parties would continue to work hard to reach an agreement that would preserve Maryland’s racing heritage and industry,” said Governor O’Malley.  “I applaud the incredible work of  all the parties in reaching a deal that retains racing industry jobs and preserves the future of racing in Maryland for years to come.”

The 2013 racing season will feature 146 days of live racing days at the major Maryland tracks, the same number as in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Maryland Jockey Club will guarantee a minimum of 100 days a year for the balance of the agreement. There are provisions in the contract for the horsemen to race additional days through a revenue-sharing program.

The deal also calls for Pimlico and Laurel Park to remain open for year-round racing, training and stabling for the balance of the contract. Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas indicated Pimlico and Laurel would maintain a minimum of 1,900 stalls.

“I am very pleased with the agreement,” said Stronach Group chairman Frank Stronach, who owns Pimlico and Laurel. “This shows our commitment to Maryland racing and the long-term future of the industry.  It is our vision to encourage people to invest in Maryland racing.”

“We created a plan that benefits everyone and develops a sustainable model for the future,” said Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club. “I would like to thank Governor Martin O’Malley for his continued support of the industry. We appreciate his involvement two years ago which set-up the framework for this deal. We appreciate Maryland Racing Commissioners John McDaniel and Bruce Quade for their commitment as well as the leadership from the MTHA and MBHA for working with us to make this happen.”

“This is an historic moment for the Maryland racing community and the dawn of a new era,” said MTHA General Counsel Alan Foreman. “The years of uncertainty and strife are over. The racing industry owes a debt of gratitude to Tom Chuckas, Mike Rogers, Richard Hoffberger, Dale Capuano, Wayne Wright, Tom Bowman, Bruce Quade and John McDaniel for their dedication and hard work over the past 11 months to bring this to fruition. Most importantly, I want to thank Frank Stronach for his commitment to the future of Maryland racing and his willingness to work with us to find constructive solutions to our complicated issues.  Since he assumed ownership of the Maryland tracks, Frank has sought a business model that would allow him to profit here while preserving and enhancing Maryland’s historic racing industry. In partnership with him, we can now achieve that goal.”

“It was an honor to be involved in this historic accomplishment,” said MHBA president Tom Bowman. “A special acknowledgement needs to be given to the Maryland Racing Commission for providing both the impetus and guidance to see this process completed. Hats off to everyone involved.”

“For our loyal horsemen and the thousands of workers throughout the state who have supported Maryland racing during the difficult past decade, we will now have long-term stability, year-round racing and stabling, an attractive purse structure, promise for the breeding industry and a strong foundation to restore Maryland racing to its pre-eminence in North American racing,” added Foreman. “For those who left Maryland for greener pastures, I think you will find that Maryland will soon become the centerpiece of racing in the Mid-Atlantic.”

Chuckas said the deal “allows the Maryland Jockey Club to invest in capital improvements at both facilities and we plan on submitting a plan to the Maryland Racing Commission and Maryland Department of Budget and Management in February.”

The parties will ask the Maryland Racing Commission to approve the 2013 racing dates at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, December 18th.  The meeting begins at 12:30 PM in Laurel Park’s Ruffian room.

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