Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The future of Maryland’s horse racing industry has been decided. And it’s good news for the Pimlico and Laurel racetracks.
As Derek Valcourt explains, it’s a long-term solution to what has been a bitter battle between track owners and the state’s horsemen.
After years of contentious debate, all sides have come together and agreed on a lengthy contract that will allow horse racing to continue here in Maryland for the next decade.
For horse racing fans it’s about one thing.
“Just the thrill of it,” said Al Delisi.
And that thrill will now continue in Maryland at least until the year 2022. That’s thanks to a new agreement approved by the Maryland Racing Commission.
Under the deal, Maryland will see a total of 146 live racing days in 2013 and at least 100 days of live racing for the next nine years after that.
“This is a very significant moment for the racing industry in Maryland. You’ll remember this a decade from now,” said Alan Foreman, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.
Foreman says the deal should give horsemen and breeders in Maryland a stable future and provide stronger purses to compete for.
The deal is also a win for the Maryland Jockey Club, which owns and operates the tracks at Pimlico and Laurel. The new financial arrangement will allow them to make improvements to their aging facilities, knowing that they will get a return on their money.
The agreement ends years of disagreements between the groups over how to save the state’s struggling racing industry.
“There’s no more conflict. There’s no more animosity, and we can get down to the business of running the racetrack and doing what’s best for racing,” said Tom Chuckas, Maryland Jockey Club president.
“It’s a good deal,” one horse racing fan said.
Local fans are thrilled to hear their horse racing home is safe for the next 10 years.
“These people were hurting. I think I’m glad they got it. I wish they’d double it,” another fan said.
Racing for 2013 is set to begin in Laurel on Jan. 1. It will begin at Pimlico on April 4.
The 138th running of the Preakness Stakes is set for Saturday, May 18 at the Pimlico Race Track.