The executive boards for Maryland's horsemen and breeders have voted to recommend ratification of a revenue-sharing agreement between the state's thoroughbred and harness industries.
The action culminates two years of intensive -- and sometimes bitter -- negotiations and provides for the thoroughbred side to receive 80 percent of all revenue produced at every Maryland pari-mutuel betting site, with 20 percent going to the harness group.
The presidents of the state's thoroughbred breeders and horsemen's associations must approve the deal, but that is considered a formality.
Effective Jan. 1, the agreement excludes money made at Timonium Race Course, which operates its 10-day meeting independently.
"As far as we know, this paves the way for the tracks to start their new world order," said Tim Capps, executive vice president of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. "We got the deal we needed, and there was no dissension."
Under a side deal, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association will receive 47 percent of the Maryland Jockey Club's original 80 percent from the main agreement to use toward purses. The tracks will retain 47 percent of that money, with 6 percent going to the state's Breeders' Fund.
Joseph A. De Francis, president and chief executive officer of the jockey club, was unavailable to comment yesterday.
"We believe this is quite an improvement over existing arrangements," said Wayne Wright, executive secretary of the MTHA. "Because of all the nuances in the agreement, we believe it will prove to be superior to prior agreements and will set the stage for the industry to move forward."
The deal will endure into 2004 and "create peace for its length," Wright added.
Wright was not pleased with the tenor of negotiations with the harness representatives over the lengthy battle and said: "It took two years and at times we felt were were attempting to do business with terrorists. But it was in the horsemen and breeders' best interest to put our differences aside at least for four years."
In other news:
Laurel Park will wait until the selection of a third permanent steward by the Maryland Racing Commission before announcing its new racing secretary.
The position has been open since late last month when Tommy Baker retired.
Lenny Hale, vice president of racing, has been handling the secretary's duties in the interim and said he is "prepared to do it as long as it takes, even through the Preakness if necessary. But there will definitely be another racing secretary eventually."
The racing secretary's office has hired another assistant, Clayton Beck, who aided Hale during the Colonial Downs meeting in Virginia. Georgeanne Hale, who operates as the secretary at Timonium, is also a key member of the office.
"Georgeanne is in line and also may seek the steward's job. But there are plenty of applications here for the racing secretary position, so we have to wait and see," Hale said.
Radiant Wiz will be honored tomorrow night as the Rosecroft Raceway overnight horse of the year by the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association.
Owned and trained by Roger Hans of Westminster, Radiant Wiz has won 14 of 41 starts, finished second seven times and third six times. He has banked nearly $79,000 and paced a personal best of 1: 53 1/5 this year.
He competes in Rosecroft's 10th race tomorrow night.