The state study commission to aid the horse racing industry will meet today in Annapolis for the first time under its new chairman, Stuart S. Janney III.
The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. in room 406 of the Lowe House Office Building. It will be followed by meetings Dec. 18 and Jan. 8 at which the commission will make recommendations for how the legislature can help the industry keep pace with neighboring states that offer slot machines, telephone wagering and upscale off-track betting parlors.
As the commission convenes for the second year, Janney replaces Eugene A. Conti Jr., former secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Conti resigned this summer to accept a presidential appointment as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Janney, 50, is a prominent owner and breeder of thoroughbreds, as well as a leader in state and national thoroughbred organizations. He lives in Butler in Baltimore County.
"Probably no one in Maryland is more knowledgeable about horse racing as both a sport and a business than Stuart Janney," said Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who appointed Janney as chairman.
"I am confident he will provide strong leadership and thoughtful insight into the future of Maryland horse racing."
Janney said the 12-member commission, composed primarily of legislators, will focus its first three meetings on how to help the state's thoroughbred and Standardbred industries next year. Then, he said, the commission will meet two or three more times to consider long-term concerns.
Before the commission met last year under Conti, the governor declared slot machines off the table. Janney said he has received no such directive.
"I don't think you can talk about horse racing in Maryland without at some point talking about slots," Janney said, noting that tracks in Delaware and West Virginia have them.
"But the governor has made his position clear. He doesn't want them, and he's been re-elected by a substantial margin. I don't think slots are in the forecast for Maryland."
The commission's recommendations last year became a blueprint for legislative action. The centerpiece was $10 million from the General Fund and lottery proceeds primarily for harness and thoroughbred purses. That grant kept purses at Pimlico and Laurel Park competitive with those at slots-rich Delaware Park.
Janney said last year's package was "a good short-term response" to racing's problems in Maryland. But he also said: "I think there are lots of things Maryland racing could do that it isn't doing that could make a substantial difference."
Asked to elaborate, he said he'd prefer to let the commission address those issues. "I think we'll have a chance to develop that," he said.