Skip to Main Content

Minutes of Public Meeting - July 12, 2016

Commission Members Present:

John P. McDaniel, Chairman
Tammy Lafferty
David Hayden
Ernest Grecco
Tom Winebrener
Dr. Thomas Bowman
Bruce Quade

Members Absent:

Charles Tildon
Mary Louise Preis

Staff Present Representing the Maryland Racing Commission:

J. Michael Hopkins

Executive Director
Christopher Lord
Assistant Attorney General

In accordance with the Notice of Public Meeting, as required by §3-302, General Provisions Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, the Maryland Racing Commission (“Commission”) met in open session on July 12, 2016, commencing at 12:30 p.m. at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland. Chairman John McDaniel called the meeting to order.

Minutes – May 17, 2016.

The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting of May 17, 2016, and voted unanimously to approve them.

Minutes – June 27, 2016.

The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting of June 27, 2016, and voted unanimously to approve them.

Medication Review Committee:

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins advised the Commission that the Medication Review Committee met on July 11, 2016. Mr. Hopkins explained that a number of issues were discussed, including communication with the public, out-of-competition testing, uniform medication, owner education, notice to owners regarding possible actions against their horses and the development of an Equine Medical and Welfare Director.

Chairman McDaniel asked Committee ChairmanTom Bowman if he had any further comment. Dr. Bowman stated that he was surprised and pleased by the candid conversation among committee members and their general agreement on the major issues. Dr. Bowman clarified that the Committee’s objective is not to undercut the uniformity achieved in the Mid-Atlantic, but to add to it and make it better. Dr. Bowman commented that the general public is unaware of the strides made by the industry. For example, Dr. Bowman noted that the public does not know about the new cameras installed in the barn area at Laurel Park or the number of drug tests performed. Chairman McDaniel thanked Dr. Bowman and commented that involving the owners was a great idea. Commissioner Quade suggested that the Committee establish goals, objectives and timelines. Dr. Bowman agreed and commented that he anticipated the Committee meeting on a monthly basis.

Ratify Executive Director’s Actions.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins explained to the Commission that since there was not a June meeting, he had approved a request from Laurel Park for their summer race meeting and asked the Commission to ratify his action of approving the requests from Laurel Park. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Proposed Regulation 09.10.03.01 - Stacking.

The Commission was presented with a proposed regulation that would create a secondary threshold for ketoprofen, if it was found in conjunction with another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. The Commissioners were informed that this amendment had been recommended on a national level, was supported by the horsemen and had been approved by the Secretary of Labor. Hearing no objection, the Commission voted to approve the regulation as proposed.

Proposed Regulation 09.10.03.01 – Public Notice.

The Commission was presented with a proposed regulation that would increase the amount of days (15 to 30) for notice of a public meeting, when the Commission considers an application to establish a Satellite Simulcast Betting Facility. The Commission was also informed that these amendments conform to recently enacted legislation and have been approved by the Secretary of Labor. Hearing no objection, the Commission voted to approve the regulation as proposed.

Maryland Standardbred Race Fund Advisory Committee.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that on an annual basis the Commission must appoint a new Chairman for the Committee. The current Chairman, Tammy Lafferty, acknowledged that she would continue as Chair if the Commission wanted her to do so. Chairman McDaniel thanked Commissioner Lafferty for her willingness to continue in the post. The Commission voted unanimously to have Commissioner Lafferty continue as Chairman of the Committee.

Maryland-Bred Race Fund Race Fund Advisory Committee.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission members that on an annual basis the Commission must appoint a new Chairman and new members of the Committee. Mr. Hopkins further explained that the nominations were as follows: Andy Cashman representing the half mile track, Georganne Hale representing the mile tracks, Willie White and Larry Johnson representing the Maryland Horse Breeders and David Hayden as the Chairman of the Committee. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the members of the Committee.

Maryland Bred Race Fund.

The Commission was presented with a recommendation from the Maryland Bred Race Fund Advisory Committee to maintain the current percentages paid to breeder and stallion awards, 30% and 10% respectively, through the end of the year. The Committee also requested approval to increase five existing stakes for the Fall of 2016 by $400,000.00. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the requests.

Maryland Million Day.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins explained to the Commission that each year Maryland Million Day is considered a standalone day with respect to the percentages paid to breeder and stallion awards. As required by the regulations, the Maryland Horse Breeders requested the percentages remain at 5% for stallions and 15% for breeders on Maryland Million Day for 2016. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland Jockey Club – Racing Facility Redevelopment Fund.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission members with a request from the Maryland Jockey Club asking for reimbursement of $487,986.00 from their portion of the Racing Facility Redevelopment Fund. Mr. Hopkins further stated that the request had been reviewed by the Commission’s Certified Public Accountant and deemed an appropriate request. Mr. Hopkins further stated that the costs associated with the requests were for the installation of new infield tote boards at both Pimlico and Laurel. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland Jockey Club Fall Race Meeting Requests.

The Commission was presented with a number of requests from the Maryland Jockey Club for their Fall Race Meeting beginning on September 6, 2016 and ending on December 31, 2016. Noting that the requests were routine, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland State Fair Race Meeting Requests.

The Commission members were presented with a number of requests from the Maryland State Fair for their Race Meeting beginning on August 26, 2016 and ending on September 5, 2016. Noting that the requests were routine, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland Jockey Club/Preakness Day Report.

Chairman John McDaniel asked Tim Ritvo and Sal Sinatra to provide the Commission with an update on the recently concluded Pimlco race meet and the Preakness. Tim Ritvo reported that handle on Preakness Day was $97,000,000.00, an increase of $10,000,000.00 over 2015 and that Black Eyed Susan Day also showed an increase of approximately $2,000,000.00 in handle. From a television ratings perspective, the Preakness was watched by more people than the Belmont and Kentucky Derby.

Mr. Ritvo assured the Commission that the Stronach Group tries to stay ahead of the curve as it relates to injuries that occur on the track and that it is unfortunate that injuries do occur to both horses and riders. Chairman McDaniel thanked Mr. Ritvo and commented that the transparency of the Stronach Group was well received.

Mr. Ritvo also reported that the over payment to the purse account is estimated to be approximately $360,000.00 at the end of 2016 compared to an over payment of $4,000,000.00 at the end of 2015. Mr. Ritvo attributed the decrease in the over payment to the purse account to increased handle, slot revenue and managing the types of races that have been run at Laurel and Pimlico. Commissioner Quade congratulated the Stronach Group and all of the parties involved for decreasing the over payment of the purse account. Mr. Ritvo advised that the current handle at Laurel shows increases as compared to Philadelphia Park and Monmouth Park, which have shown decreases for the same periods.

Mr. Ritvo also reported that Boonsboro, Timonium, Riverboat and the Horseshoe OTB’s continue to do well and that the Stronach Group had discussions with the Perryville Casino to place an OTB at that location. Commissioner Grecco asked if they had had any discussion with Rocky Gap. Mr. Ritvo responded that the Stronach Group had reached out to Rocky Gap representatives and were waiting to hear back from them.

Due to the attention given to the Preakness Day fatalities, the Commission asked Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins to report on the incidents. Mr. Hopkins read from a prepared statement:

“Homeboykris”, a nine year old horse, ran in the first race at Pimlico, a Starter Allowance Race for three year olds and upward, which had started for a claiming price of $5,000 or less in 2015-2016, and finished first. After leaving the winner’s circle, the horse, while walking to the detention the barn, collapsed and died on the track.

As with all fatalities and injuries that occur at the track, follow-up interviews were conducted. Jockey Horacio Karamanos advised that the horse had warmed up well and did not display any problems before or after the running of the race. At the request of the owner, Trainer Francis Campitelli stated that he had claimed the horse on December 31, 2015. The owner instructed Mr. Campitelli to train and run the horse under the condition that it would not be allowed to run in a claiming race. Further, the owner advised Mr. Campitelli that once the horse could not compete, he would be retired to a horse farm in Florida. Mr. Campitelli also commented that for a nine year old, “Homeboykris” was in good health, did not have any health issues and was training very well. State Veterinarian Dr. Libby Daniels had performed the pre-race examination of “Homeboykris” and did not note any abnormalities.

Practicing veterinarians Dr. John Sivick and Dr. Richard Ferris were interviewed. Both stated the horse did not have a history of any significant problems and was only treated with routine permitted medications. Dr. Sivick stated that he had treated the horse with phenylbutazone and ACTH a day before the race and had provided a packet of dexamethasone powder to be given two days before the race. All treatments have been supported by the billing records. At the time of the collapse, it was speculated that the horse had died of a sudden heart attack. Consequently, blood specimens were collected and sent to the Truesdail Laboratory for routine testing. The horse was also sent to the Maryland Department of Agriculture in Frederick, Maryland, where a necropsy was performed.

On June 2, 2016, the Maryland Racing Commission received the final pathology report from Dr. Virginia Pierce. Dr. Pierce commented that the horse was in good physical condition, appeared normal and her impression was consistent with the original diagnosis that the horse suffered a heart attack. On June 8, 2016, the Maryland Racing Commission received a report from the Truesdail Laboratory, which identified the blood specimen taken from “Homeboykris” to have dexamethasone present in the specimen at a quantitated level of 30 picograms per milliliter of blood plasma, exceeding the permissive level of 5 picograms per milliliter of blood plasma. (Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid administered as an anti-inflammatory. In this case, practicing veterinarian Dr. John Sivick had prescribed a 10 mg. packet of “Azium Powder” to be administered two days before the race.) The stewards held a hearing for Mr. Campitelli and ordered him to be fined $500 and assigned him one point for a multiple medication violation. In a subsequent interview with Dr. David Zipf, Chief State Veterinarian for the Maryland Racing Commission, he stated that in his opinion the medication violation would not have contributed to the death of “Homeboykris”.

“Pramedya”, a four year old filly, ran in the fourth race at Pimlico, an Optional Allowance Claiming race for fillies and mares, three years old and older, which had never won two races other than maiden, claiming, starter, waiver claiming, state sired races, state bred races, or claiming price of $32,000.00 - $28,000.000. The race was 1 mile and 1/16 on the turf which was listed as good. Leaving the far turn, “Parmeyda” suffered a fractured left front leg which caused both horse and rider to fall to the ground. State Veterinarian Dr. Tom Jett attended to the horse after the fall and determined the severe fracture required euthanasia of “Prameyda”.

On May 25, 2016, Jockey Daniel Centeno was interviewed. Having fractured a clavicle and scapular bone as a result of the fall, Jockey Centeno advised that the horse warmed up well and he did not suspect any problems. He did state the horse had broken through the gate prior to the start of the race, but did not believe it contributed to the injury. Jockey Centeno continued commenting that the grass course was soft, but not bad. The horse was running fine, changed to its left lead, continued to run well and went down when he started to make his move.

In his interview, Trainer Arnaud Delacour commented that he had the horse for its entire racing career and did not have any knowledge of anything unusual with the horse prior to it breaking down and was unaware of any soundness issues. In 2015, the horse had fractured its right front fetlock and was laid off for nine months before being released by Dr. Larry Bramledge, a highly recognized and experienced equine surgeon in Kentucky. Mr. Delacour advised that the horse trained well and did not receive medication to train. State Veterinarian Dr. Shim Liberman had performed the pre-race examination and did not note any abnormalities.

The billing records obtained from TFB Equine and Dr. Mark Piecoro indicate the horse had been treated with phenylbutazone and Leegend the day before the race. Blood specimens taken from “Prameyda” and sent to Truesdail Laboratories for testing did not reveal any improper medications. The horse was not sent for necropsy.

“Uncle Lino”, a three year old horse that had run in the Preakness Stakes, was pulled up by Jockey Fernando Perez just past the finish line. State Veterinarian Dr. Tom Jett examined the horse and noted a possible injury to the horse’s left front leg and ordered the horse ambulance to transport the horse back to its barn. Upon arrival at the barn, “Uncle Lino” was able to walk off of the van.

In a telephone interview with Trainer Gary Sherlock on May 25, 2016, he stated that “Uncle Lino” had suffered a slight sprain behind the left front knee and was going to be ok.

Commissioner Quade asked if science would support the comment that dexamethasone would not have contributed to Homeboykris’s death. Mr. Hopkins responded that not being a veterinarian he could not comment on someone’s professional opinion. Commissioner Dr. Tom Bowman, a practicing veterinarian, supported the comment made by Dr. Zipf.

Transfer of Prince George’s Racing Ventures, Inc.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins reported to the Commission that he had received an application for the transfer of the license from Prince George’s Racing Ventures, Inc. to the Stronach Group Developments Investments, Inc. Mr. Hopkins further stated that the process required the Commission to perform a personal and financial background review of the entity negotiating the purchase and notify the Legislative Policy Committee 15 days prior to the Commission considering the transfer for their comment. Mr. Hopkins noted that the Committee was properly notified and that no comments had been received. Mr. Hopkins reported that he conducted the personal background investigation on all of the officers and directors; Belinda Stronach, Alon Ossip, John Simonetti, Mike Rogers, Tim Ritvo and Jane Lynn without discovering any information that would preclude them from operating Rosecroft. In addition, the financial background was conducted by the Commission’s Certified Public Accountant. The financial review included a review of a balance sheet, cash flow statements and a two year projected business plan, which shows the operation of Rosecroft to be cash flow positive. Mr. Ritvo commented that their settlement date was at the end of July and there would be sufficient time to organize their management team for the scheduled re-opening of Rosecroft for racing on September 13, 2016.

Commissioner Lafferty asked Mr. Ritvo if he had seen the e-mail from the President of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners’ Association Tom Cook regarding his concerns of not having the opportunity to meet with him. Mr. Ritvo responded that he had seen Mr. Cook’s e-mail and would be scheduling a meeting to discuss his concerns. Commissioner Lafferty made a motion to approve the transfer, which was seconded by Commissioner Winebrener. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the transfer.

June VLT Report.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a VLT report, which compared the amount of money generated for the Purse Dedication Account in 2015 and 2016. The report shows a continued increase in Fiscal Year 2016 over 2015.

Public Comment.

Cheri Stambaugh reported that the Standardbred Fund races held at Ocean Downs were very competitive. Ross Peddicord reported that the Fair Hill Equestrian Center may be chosen as a Four Star event location, which may provide Fair Hill with a multi-million dollar renovation project.

Next Commission Meeting.

The next Commission meeting will be held on September 20, 2016, at 12:30 P.M. in the Clubhouse at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland.

J. Michael Hopkins
Executive Director