New Deal Keeps 146 Days Of Racing, Preakness

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Safeguarding the Preakness, Gov. O’Malley announced a new proposal for Maryland’s 2011 horseracing schedule that prevents live racing in the state from shutting down.

Andre Fujii has the latest information on the agreement reached Wednesday morning.

The Maryland Racing Commission approved a plan that was hammered out Wednesday morning with the help of Gov. O’ Malley.

The horses weren’t running but David Wittman was on the job when word spread that there will be racing next year.

“Ecstatic,” he said. “Completely ecstatic. Very happy.”

But there was nothing but worry Tuesday night for members of Maryland’s horse industry as they watched the racing commission reject a proposal from track owners that had conditions horsemen couldn’t accept.

It looked like the finish for racing, the Preakness, and for people like horse breeder Cynthia McGinnis. She said her only hope was for the state to take over the tracks under eminent domain—“which is all we need and then you watch the horse industry fly,” she said.

Instead, the O’Malley administration called the parties together Wednesday morning and resolved the conflict.

“Well, we’ve had a breakthrough today that allows us to keep the Preakness and a full day of racing in Maryland—not one or the other but actually both,” said O’Malley. “It’s critically important to all of those thousands of jobs that depend on racing and horse-related agriculture. And it’s also critically important for our traditions to sustain.”

In the deal, owners can take slots money earmarked for track improvement and use it for operating costs instead.

The new deal isn’t a long-term solution. But for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the short-term solution will do for now.

“I want to thank the governor for his hard work. This is an important day for the city of Baltimore and for the entire state,” she said. “And because he continued to push for a collaboration and compromise, we’re here today and we can look forward to a Preakness in the spring.”

The new racing year will start Jan. 1.

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