Two sides in agreement

Thoroughbred, Standardbred groups say they have tentative deal

Horse Racing

April 05, 2006|By SANDRA MCKEE | SANDRA MCKEE,SUN REPORTER

Alan Foreman, lawyer for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, and Greg White, a member of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association board, confirmed last night that their two sides have reached a tentative agreement designed to unite the industry on all main issues for the next decade and beyond.

The Maryland Horse Breeders Association, Maryland Standardbred Breeders Association, Cloverleaf SOA (the owners group that owns Rosecroft), Cloverleaf Enterprise Inc. (which operates Rosecroft), the Maryland Jockey Club (which operates Pimlico and Laurel Park) and the MTHA will all vote on the agreement today and tomorrow.

"Both sides have agreed to say only that it is an agreement in principle," Foreman said. "Details will not be discussed until after the agreement is approved and then it will be in a joint announcement, perhaps at the Maryland Racing Commission meeting Tuesday."

The thoroughbred and Standardbred organizations have lacked an understanding on everything from simulcasting rights to off-track betting parlors. The agreement is also rumored to address any future revenue sharing issues should slots be approved.

Foreman said the new agreement would settle all major issues.

While the agreement would be important over the long term - speculation is that it will cover a 15-year period - it would also be helpful in the short term. A Maryland House bill that would provide a $15 million purse supplement to the industry this year is pending in the Senate, which concludes its session Monday night.

"Timing is important," both Foreman and White agreed.

"But it's about more than the legislation," White said.

"The supplement would be a help, a shot in the arm this year," Foreman said. "But going forward, this agreement would mean we will all be speaking with one voice. ... The hope is with this agreement we will end the bickering for a very long time and move forward. But we're all walking on eggshells right now."

smm2me@aol.com

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