Magna plan on '06 dates is modified

October 06, 2005|By SANDRA MCKEE | SANDRA MCKEE,SUN REPORTER

A day before their plan for cutting the number of live racing days in Maryland nearly in half was to be voted on by the Maryland Racing Commission, Magna Entertainment Corp. and the Maryland Jockey Club withdrew their original plan and submitted a new one that added 17 days to their proposal.

When the commission convenes this morning, it will be to consider the new proposal that Jockey Club chief operating officer Lou Raffetto said honors a previous agreement with Maryland horsemen "as we interpret it" for racing from Jan. 1 through Belmont Day 2006.

Raffetto said that means racing four days a week, not the five the horsemen believe to be the intent of the previous agreement.

Magna's initial plan, which caused horsemen and breeders here to worry about the future of the sport, would have cut the number of live racing days at Laurel and Pimlico from 198 days to 112 and limited the spring meet at Pimlico to 18 days. It also would have closed and eventually sold the Bowie Training Center and would have closed the stables at Pimlico and Laurel for training from mid-June until mid-October.

The new plan calls for 129 days of racing, including 26 at Pimlico, and resumes racing in October at Laurel instead of November in order to further use the new, $20 million turf course.

Raffetto would not comment on the new plan in regard to training facilities.

Though the new plan shows some movement, Wayne Wright, executive secretary of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, was not impressed.

"It's unacceptable," Wright said. "The horsemen haven't agreed to it and won't agree to it."

smm2me@aol.com

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