Members Of New Racing Operating Authority Named

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Gov. Wes Moore in June announced appointments to the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority, which was created by the General Assembly this spring. The authority will make recommendations regarding the racing industry in Maryland and will work to improve horse racing and training facilities in the state.

“The horse racing industry is an important part of our state’s history and our present-day economy,” Moore said in a release. “We have a long, distinguished tradition of racing here in our state. My administration is committed to working with all stakeholders to not only move us forward but to ensure a solid, successful, and sustainable future for Maryland racing. The Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority will help us reach that goal.”

The governor’s office said the authority will convene experts to study issues and make recommendations about the future of racing, including investment in Maryland’s racing facilities, to ensure that Maryland remains a premier racing destination for many years to come.

Under Senate Bill 720, the governor makes the following appointments: Three members, one of whom will serve as Chair; one member from a list of two individuals nominated by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; one member from a list of two individuals nominated by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association; and three ex-officio members of the community who reside near Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, and the Bowie Training Center.

The authority also includes a member appointed by the Senate President; a member appointed by the Speaker of the House; representative from the Maryland Stadium Authority; a representative from the Maryland Economic Development Corporation; and a member of the Maryland Racing Commission.

Greg Cross, a veteran attorney at Venable LLP with significant experience in the state’s racing industry, will serve as chair. Cross is recognized as one of the nation’s expert commercial real estate and structured-finance litigators and has represented horse breeding farms beginning in the 1990s and represented the state of Maryland in connection with the 2009 bankruptcy of the then-owner of the Preakness Stakes, Magna Entertainment, which later became The Stronach Group.

Cross has represented MEDCO in the acquisition, construction and redevelopment of racing facilities as required by Racing and Community Development Act of 2020. He has spent the past year actively engaged in conversations with the MTHA, MHBA, MSA and 1/ST Racing (TSG) regarding options for the future of Maryland racing.

Additional authority members appointed by Moore include Mary Tydings, a leader in talent recruitment and placement whose uncle, John Shapiro, was the longtime owner of Laurel Park; Jeff Hargrave is the founder and president of Mahogany Inc., a commercial construction firm specializing in architectural millwork, general contracting, and commissioning services; Alan Foreman, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which represents more than 20,000 owners in the United States, including Maryland; and Thomas Rooney, a former member of Congress who currently serves as the President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and owner of Shamrock Farm in Maryland.

The MTHA and MHBA submitted the names of Foreman and Rooney, respectively. The three appointed ex-officio members of the affected communities are Joe Franco (Laurel), Nicole Earle (Pimlico), and Gavin Stokes (Bowie).

Craig Thompson, Chair of the MSA, will represent the MSA on the new authority, while MEDCO will be represented by either Executive Director J. Thomas Sakowski Jr. or MEDCO Board of Directors Chair Scott Dorsey.

Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones jointly selected Louis Ulman, a lawyer, horse owner and former chair of the MRC; and Charles “Chuck” Tildon III, a former MRC member.

The MRC, which will have non-voting representation, selected George Mahoney Jr., a horse owner who was recently named to the racing regulatory agency.

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