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Minutes of Public Meeting - October 18, 2016

Commission Members Present:

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

Members Absent:
Ronald Thomas

Staff Present Representing the Maryland Racing Commission:

J. Michael Hopkins

Executive Director
Eric B. London
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 October 18, 2016, commencing at 12:30 p.m. at Ocean Downs, Berlin, Maryland. Chairman John McDaniel commented that he wanted to thank Bill Rickman, owner of Ocean Downs, for hosting the meeting at his facility.

Minutes – September 20, 2016.

The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its meeting of September 20, 2016, and voted unanimously to approve them.

Cecil County Breeders’ Fair, Inc.

The Commission was presented with a request from the Cecil County Breeders’ Fair for approval of one day of racing on May 27, 2017. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Proposed Regulations.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with 12 proposed amendments to existing regulations that have been reviewed and recommended to be amended by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Commission. Mr. Hopkins also commented that the regulations had been distributed and discussed with all the stakeholders to which no objection has been noted. As presented, each of the following regulations were separately explained and approved unanimously by the Commission:

0910.01.04 – Repealed a provision that provided for an appeal process if an owner or trainer were denied a stall by a racing association;
09.10.01.07 – Amended the optional claiming rule by clarifying the type of race a horse may be re-entered into after being off for 180 days;
09.10.01.12 – Deleted a prohibition of running off a dead heat;
09.10.01.17 – Deleted obsolete language which allowed an entry to be taken by “telegraph” , the time for which entries close and added language for weight allowances when fillies and mares compete against colts and geldings;
09.10.01.22 – Deleted language requiring a Jockey agent to possess certain documentation regarding their engagements;
09.10.01.23 – Deleted language that applies to an owner or trainer who hires (by contract) a person aspiring to become an apprentice jockey;
09.10.01.29 – Deleted language requiring a bell to be sounded indicating the time to saddle and changed the word “shall” to “may”, when a bugle is used to call the horses to post;
09.10.01.36 – Deleted the position of Clerk of the Course;
09.10.01.37 – Deletes the language describing the duties of the Clerk of the Course;
09.10.01.54 – Repeals the entire section regarding the scale of weights that no longer applies;
09.10.01.58 – Deletes language that requires a jockey to ask permission before dismounting after a race; and
09.10.04.08 – Deletes language that prohibits a track to provide facilities for comeback money and the use of handbooks.

Regulation Update.

Chairman John McDaniel explained to the Commission that since the last meeting he has met with the Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins and Eric London, Counsel to the Commission, regarding the authority of the Commission to have regulatory oversight of the purse account. Mr. McDaniel further commented that those discussions and others with stakeholders have raised the question of the Commission’s authority in regards to the purse account. As a result, the Chairman asked the members of the Commission to consider a motion to request an Opinion of the Attorney General to clarify the issue. The Commission unanimously endorsed the Chairman’s request.

Medication Committee.

Commissioner Tom Bowman suggested that the Commission move forward with national uniformity on medications and other substances. Dr. Bowman made a motion for the Commission to adopt the Association of Racing Commissioners International (“ARCI”) Uniform Penalties and Guidelines. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Preis. Commissioner Quade commented that over the past few years the Commission has adopted the recommendations made by the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (“RMTC”) in regard to drug testing and drug classification. Mr. Quade further commented that the adoption of the ARCI Uniform Penalties and Guidelines would further address the uniformity issue. Alan Forman, counsel to the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, commented that by adopting the ARCI Uniform Penalties and Guidelines as a policy would allow more flexibility moving forward and supported the motion. Hearing no objection, the Commission voted to adopt the guidelines as a policy.

Dr. Bowman further commented that the Commission needed to address the issue of whether to continue to allow the stewards and judges to have discretion regarding penalties for drug cases or should the stewards and judges follow the recommended ARCI penalties and then allow the Commission to apply its discretion, should there be an appeal of the penalty. The third option would be to hire an Equine Welfare and Medical Director to make the decisions about the penalties for medication violations. Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins advised the Commission that he may have found a way to accelerate the hiring of the Equine Welfare and Medical Director and would know if that position was funded in the next couple of weeks. The Commission directed the Executive Director to inform the stewards and judges to follow the ARCI recommended penalties, but noted the Commission would revisit the discretion issue at its November meeting and again when an Equine Welfare and Medical Director was hired.

Dr. Bowman also commented that the Multiple Medication Violation point system was being reviewed by the RMTC. Alan Forman reported that the RMTC had met by conference call on two occasions to discuss the concerns raised by the Medication Committee regarding the point system since the last meeting. As a result, Mr. Forman reported that the discussions have been productive and would appear that the concerns raised by the Medication Committee would be addressed by the end of the year.

Sale of Ocean Downs.

The Commission was presented with a financial report on the purchase of Ocean Downs by Old Bay Gaming and Racing, LLC, which is a subsidiary of Churchill Downs and Saratoga Harness. Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins commented that the financial review was conducted by Gegorek and Company, the Commission’s accountant, and explained the business plan over the next two years, which would not change the current operation. Mr. Hopkins further commented that he had conducted the personal background review of the individuals listed as officers and did not find any negative information in the states of Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi or New York, where these individuals operate similar businesses. Mr. Hopkins also commented that he had notified the Legislative Policy Committee and has not received any comment relating to the sale. Michael Vild representing Saratoga Harness introduced Mike Ziegler, Director of Racing for Churchill Downs, as well as Michael Daney, local counsel. Mike Ziegler thanked the Commission for the opportunity and noted that he was looking forward to working with the Commission. Chairman McDaniel thanked Bill Rickman, the current owner of Ocean Downs, for all the hard work he has put into the facility since his ownership. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the sale and transfer.

Maryland Jockey Club – Racing Facility Redevelopment Fund.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins reported the he had received a request from the Maryland Jockey Club for reimbursement of $1,491,729.00 for qualified capital projects from the Racing Facility Redevelopment Fund. Mr. Hopkins further reported that the request had been reviewed by Gegorek and Company, the Commission’s accountant, as required. The improvements include barn area improvements, building improvements, equipment upgrades and other improvements in the grandstand and clubhouse. Hearing no objection, the Commission unanimously approved the request.

Maryland Racing Commission Rulings Web Site.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins informed the Commission that he has received a request from Commissioner Hayden to have the Stewards rulings placed onto the Commission’s website. Mr. Hopkins further reported that he has asked the Department to develop the website and had provided the Commissioners with a sample of the website for their review. Hearing no objection, the Commission approved the request which would also include all rulings from the standardbred tracks.

September VLT Report.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a VLT report from the month of September and noted no substantial change for the same period from 2015.

Comments.

Commissioner David Hayden suggested that all the stakeholders and Commission members meet and discuss the revenue sources and expenditures for each stakeholder. The purpose of the discussions would be to educate everyone and provide an understanding as to how each entity operates. Chairman McDaniel agreed and commented those types of meetings would provide insight and transparency.

Commissioner Quade stated that the previous week he had sent a letter to Governor Hogan informing him that he would be resigning from the Commission effective December 1, 2016. Commissioner Quade further commented that he enjoyed his time on the Commission and would be pursuing other opportunities. Commissioner Quade also commented on the accomplishments during his tenure on the Commission, including the 10 year deal, the Breeder bonuses and the turnaround of Maryland Racing. He noted that it was an honor to serve with the industry representatives. Chairman McDaniel thanked Commissioner Quade for all his accomplishments and dedication.

Public Comments.

Sal Sinatra thanked Commissioner Quade for all of his service. He reported that the Maryland Million was scheduled for October 22, 2016. Sharon Roberts commented that she has met with Churchill Downs and was looking forward to working with them and also thanked the Maryland Jockey Club for their work at Rosecroft.

Next Commission Meeting.

The next Commission meeting will be held on November 15, 2016, at 12:30 P.M. in the Clubhouse at Laurel Park, Laurel, Maryland.

J. Michael Hopkins
Executive Director