`KIM' to state case for horse industry

Horse racing

October 24, 2006|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN REPORTER

The Maryland Racing Commission gathered at David Hayden's Safely Home Farm, a division of Dark Hollow Farm, in Baltimore County yesterday and announced its new initiative, "KIM," as in "Keep It in Maryland."

The "It" is the horse industry, everything from the breeders and owners to the farms and the good environment the industry creates with its commitment to open space.

Commission chairman John McDaniel, secretary James Fielder and KIM task force chairman John Franzone stressed the importance of educating the legislature and the public about the impact the industry has with its 20,200 horse farms that provide jobs for more than 20,000 workers and cover 685,000 acres - nearly 10 percent of the land in Maryland.

"I still don't think the legislature has an appreciation for how big this industry is in this state," Franzone said. "We've spent a lot of time trying to educate, but they still don't get it. We are still one of the largest engines in the state. ... Now, we're going to get together and figure out an approach and a plan" to educate the government and the public of the industry's importance.

"It's not about slots or attendance at the racetracks," said commission member Greg Barnhill, who is on the task force. "It's a huge industry with a huge impact on the state, and we have to stop the backslide and send it in the other direction."

Fielder said a set of books containing seven annual reports from the earliest days of the Maryland Racing Commission, dating to the 1920s, was recently found. As he read through them, he learned those commissions were concerned about some of the same things being discussed today, including advertising the industry and educating the government and the public about its value.

"It's kind of ironic," Fielder said. "But this is the first time the commission has formed a group to figure out ways to promote and advertise this industry."

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

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