MTHA Will Propose Change in Claiming Rule to MRC

The MTHA Board of Directors Jan. 27 voted to request that the Maryland Racing Commission make a change in a rule regarding claimed horses.

Under the current rule, the new owner of a claimed horse, should it be entered and run within 30 days, must race the horse at a claiming price 25% higher than the price for which it was claimed. Under the MTHA request, the 30-day window would be reduced to 20 days.

MTHA board members made it clear the change can only be made by the MRC. The board acted in response to concerns voiced by trainers who attended the Jan. 27 meeting.

Most of the trainers said the current rule, coupled with a three-day racing week at Laurel Park for most of the year, hinders their ability to provide earnings opportunities for owners who claim horses. They also said the tightening of therapeutic medication rules over the past three years has perhaps negated the need to mandate that a horse race at higher claiming price in the start after it’s claimed.

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Fantasy Owner’s Day in the works for March 18th at Laurel Park

Horsemen and breeders are being encouraged to bring friends to a special Fantasy Owners’ Day at Laurel Park March 18 as part of a broader effort to introduce people to racing and Thoroughbred ownership.

The event will be sponsored by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Maryland Jockey Club, Maryland Horse Breeders Association and Capital Bank.

Organizers are currently working on the exact details of the day, but the Saturday event will include a “Fantasy Owners’ Experience” with a 10:30 a.m. seminar in the Ruffian Room featuring the region’s top partnership managers; a buffet luncheon, paddock access, a winner’s circle presentation, and gift bags; and access to an optional training session at 8:30 a.m. on the track apron with coffee and donuts available.

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Delegate Kaiser Assumes Top Spot On Important Committee To Racing

Del. Anne Kaiser of Montgomery County will take over as chair of the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for legislation related to horse racing in the state.

House Speaker Michael Busch recently announced the appointment of Kaiser, who has served on the Ways and Means Committee since 2003. As Democratic Majority Leader of the House of Delegates, Kaiser has been close adviser to Busch.

“Delegate Kaiser has been a tireless champion for public education,” Busch said in a release. “She is well-respected by her colleagues of both parties in the House and will do a tremendous job as chairman of the committee.”

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MRC Report: Out Of Competition Model Rule Approved

The new out-of-competition testing model rule approved by the Association of Racing Commissioners International in December should be on the books soon in Maryland.

The Maryland Racing Commission Jan. 17 approved the rule under emergency provisions. The Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission approved the rule at its meeting Jan. 11.

“There is a little more wordsmithing to be done, but no substantive changes,” MRC Executive Director Mike Hopkins said. “We want to include the Prohibited List by reference so we don’t have to (approve changes) over and over again.”

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Daniel takes over from Zipf as Maryland state veterinarian

Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Daniel began her new duties Jan. 1 as state veterinarian for the Maryland Racing Commission. She replaces Dr. David Zipf, who retired from the post at the end of 2016.

Daniel has served as state vet for the West Virginia Racing Commission at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, and said she will continue in that role. Charles Town, located not far from Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, and the Maryland State Fair at Timonium, races in the evening except for a handful of days each year.

A resident of Charles Town, Daniel was state vet at the West Virginia track from 1997-2001 and then moved into small animal veterinary medicine. She returned to the Charles Town post about six years ago.

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Early Numbers In For MGM National Harbor

It wasn’t even open for a full month, but the MGM National Harbor casino in December generated a little more than $1 million for the Maryland Thoroughbred Purse Dedication account funded by video lottery terminals.

Overall, December was a good month for Maryland casinos. According to Maryland Lottery and Gaming statistics, six casinos generated a record $133.47 million in gaming revenue, an increase of 27.9% from May 2016 when the previous record of $104.35 million was set by five casinos.

In a year-to-year comparison, December 2016 revenue was up 40.2% from the same month in 2015.

MGM National Harbor, located just across the Potomac River from Northern Virginia, opened Dec. 8. Gross gaming revenue per VLT per day was $313 in December, Maryland Lottery and Gaming reported.

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