Shame on the Maryland Jockey Club

November 08, 2010

Shame on the Maryland Jockey Club! After years of letting the tracks degrade, constantly asking for state help, waiting for slots to redeem their poor management, now that slots will not be at Laurel Park, they are threatening to destroy live racing in Maryland. If they do not want to continue the great tradition of Maryland thoroughbred racing, they should bow out and let David Cordish run the tracks.

The thoroughbred industry does not consist only of the racetracks, owners, breeders and trainers but also of grooms, hotwalkers, veterinarians, blacksmiths, hay, feed and tack businesses, not to mention the farms themselves. Looking to a grim future, some Maryland breeding farms have already located out of state, where the purses and breeder bonuses are higher. If live racing is discontinued here, that trickle will become a flood. Many jobs will be lost, and many green spaces will be developed into malls, office parks or tract housing.

Contrast this scenario with the efforts of Under Armour's Kevin Plank, who, purchasing the equally degraded Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, has turned it once more into the showplace it was in racing's heyday under Alfred Vanderbilt. Everyone who loves the racing industry, or wants to see Maryland's farms and green spaces retained, cheered Mr. Plank's filly, Shared Account, to victory in her Breeder's Cup race at Churchill Downs on Friday.

Maryland thoroughbred racing must not be allowed to disappear. It is a shame that the slots parlors are not at the racetrack; this is a model that has worked well at Delaware Park, Penn National and Charles Town. Anyone who drives through West Virginia can see how farms, previously run down or abandoned, have now gained a new lease on life.

The facts are, however, that this particular horse has left the barn, and it is now the responsibility of the Jockey Club to do the right thing and allow someone who cares about the great history of racing in this state to take over.

Pat Pineau, Glyndon

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