MRC to Magna, others: Speed up negotiations

Horsemen, breeders also given until Dec. 1 to reach '06 deal

Horse racing


The Maryland Racing Commission yesterday again scolded Magna Entertainment Corp., horsemen and breeders for being less than speedy in negotiations toward working out racing dates for 2006.

It then gave the three parties until Dec. 1 to resolve an expense-sharing issue that has bogged down negotiations. It also asked Magna officials to prepare an expense report by that date, detailing the cost of operating the Maryland tracks on live and simulcast days. That report will be used by the commission to find an equitable cost-sharing figure if the three parties fail to resolve the issue by then.

The commission approved a broad-based request by Magna for all 365 days for racing in 2006, but it directed the three entities to reach an agreement on specific racing dates by the commission's next meeting, Dec. 13.

After the meeting in Laurel, Maryland Jockey Club chief operating officer Lou Raffetto said it would not be a problem to give the commission the expense report and said, "Hopefully, we can behave like grown men and make a deal - or the commission will step up and make one for us. ... Hopefully, we can get it resolved."

Alan Foreman, lawyer for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horseman's Association, said his group was ready to finalize an agreement on racing dates last Wednesday.

"It was only when [Magna] introduced expense sharing that it didn't happen," said Foreman, who added that the horsemen also will forward their own expense analysis to the commission.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in the discussion is that Magna wants the horsemen and breeders not only to contribute to expenses going forward, but also reimburse it for the last year, when no agreement was in place.

Despite the commission's directive to speed up the process, it appears the first meeting between the horsemen and Magna cannot occur until Nov. 26 due to previously planned travel by various officials.

Krebs' appeal denied

In post-meeting hearings, the commission refused trainer Steve Krebs' appeal of the Maryland Stewards' ruling on his complaint against jockey Eric Camacho for pulling up his horse Luthar "without proper cause" at Timonium on Sept. 5. The stewards found no wrongdoing on Camacho's part.

Assistant attorney general Bruce Spizler said the commission could find no way around horse racing's regulation that says only owners, trainers or jockeys of other horses can lodge an objection against a rider.

After the ruling, Krebs told Camacho he doesn't wish him any ill will and said he would let the matter rest. Camacho said his business has suffered badly because of the charge. "I've gone from an average of eight rides a day to two or three or maybe none," he said, adding he is glad to put the incident behind him.

Et cetera

The commission approved the 2006 stakes schedule for Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course that includes increased payouts in nine of 19 stakes and a new $85,000 turf stakes April 15.

Rosecroft Raceway's request to conduct racing 365 days next year, with the understanding the track will run about 100 live days, was approved. But a task force led by commissioner David Clogg was established to study the track's financial situation out of concern for its ability to meet its debts.

Also approved was a request from the Maryland State Fair at Timonium for 10 conseutive racing days from Aug. 26 through Sept. 4, 2006, and Fair Hill was given approval for three days of racing on May 27 and two other days to be determined.

Jockey Ryan Fogelsonger was fined $1,000 for failing to appear before the commission after being subpoenaed. Fogelsonger said he forgot.

Cricket Goodall, executive director of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association unveiled a state map demonstrating what it means to have 10 percent of Maryland's land used as horse farms.

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