The agreement reached Wednesday between the racetracks and horsemen not to close Pimlico's stables for the winter emphasized harmony. How long that will last between groups often at odds is anybody's guess, but it's starting out on the right foot.
Alan Foreman, attorney for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said he received a call Thursday night from Jim McAlpine, president of Magna Entertainment Corp., majority owner of the Maryland Jockey Club. According to Foreman, McAlpine wanted to get together to begin what the release announcing the Pimlico agreement termed a "regular dialogue to address specific issues affecting each party and racing in general ... and to foster unity in the Maryland horse racing industry."
Foreman, who had been unsuccessful in earlier efforts to talk with McAlpine, said he viewed the phone call as a positive development.
"Actions speak louder than words," Foremen said. "But this seems to be a very promising start."
How far unity goes depends primarily on what slots legislation Magna and the tracks support, said Foreman and Wayne Wright, executive secretary of the MTHA. Foreman said that's one thing he hopes to discuss with McAlpine whenever they do sit down and talk.
In the press release announcing the Pimlico agreement, one sentence referred to slots. It read, in part: "The MTHA supports the legalization of VLTs [video-lottery terminals, or slot machines] to both Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park."
That sentence was inserted at the last minute by the track with horsemen's approval, Foreman said. Some might assume that's a shift in position by the MTHA toward the tracks. Wright said that wasn't the case.
He said agreeing to that sentence's inclusion in the release was a "no-brainer," explaining: "Supporting slots at Pimlico and Laurel, that's a given. Our goal is to get slots at the tracks and protect the horsemen's interests and the breeders' interests. That's been our position. It hasn't changed one bit."
In fact, Wright said, the MTHA supports slots not only at Pimlico and Laurel Park but also at Timonium, Rosecroft Raceway, Ocean Downs and the track being built in Allegany County. Also, he said, if slots go to other sites, then the horsemen want to ensure that an adequate share of slots proceeds goes to purses, the breeders' fund and capital improvements at the tracks.
Don Amos, Magna's chief operating officer, represented his company in negotiations with horsemen over the Pimlico dispute. He could not be reached for comment. Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the MJC, represented the MJC. He declined to comment.
Louis Quatorze has returned to the state where he won the Preakness in 1996. He arrived two weeks ago at Murmur Farm in Darlington, where he will stand as a stallion for $6,000.
Audrey and Allen Murray, who own Murmur, bought the 10-year-old Louis Quatorze from Ashford Stud in Kentucky. They used money from the sale of the stallion Our Emblem, whom they sold for about $10 million last year after his son War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Ashford shuttled Louis Quatorze back and forth between Kentucky and Argentina. His third crop is racing now. Of his seven stakes winners, the millionaire Repent is best-known. The Murrays see a strong upside in Louis Quatorze in that 400 of his foals have yet to race. They are syndicating the stallion for $15,000 a share.
In other stallion news, Country Life Farm near Bel Air has added Parker's Storm Cat to its stallion roster. The 3-year-old son of Storm Cat and half-brother to Malibu Moon will stand for $3,000.
Country Life's budding new stallion Malibu Moon was transferred to Kentucky this summer the same week Allen's Prospect, its star stallion, died. A few days later, the farm added the stallion No Armistice, a 6-year-old son of Unbridled.
The name game
Now we know how A Huevo, winner of last weekend's Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park, got his name. Suzanne Moscarelli and her husband, Vincent, who died in 1996, owned A Huevo's dam Verabald and sire Cool Joe.
Cool Joe died in 1997, but Moscarelli, who lives in northeastern Maryland, still owns Verabald. She's in foal to Polish Miner. As for A Huevo and that curious name, which means "egg" in Spanish, Moscarelli explained:
As an unnamed yearling, the horse was "a son of a gun" to catch in the paddock. Mexicans working at the farm, then in West Virginia, took to calling him what she perceived to be "a huevo." ... "I guess they meant egghead or something," she said. "They were good kids, so I said, `I'll name him after you guys.' "
Down the stretch
It took more than three years, but the outcome of the Montpelier Stakes is official. And the winner is ... Max's Pal.