Maryland racing stakeholders the evening of Nov. 20 received a status report on the state of the industry, and they were told there is great potential for growth in the state.
The Maryland Jockey Club reported that almost 400 people—horsemen, industry representatives, government officials, and racing fans—attended the town hall meeting at Laurel Park, which has undergone millions of dollars in renovations this year. Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, which owns the MJC, said pari-mutuel handle is up almost $60 million this year.
"Over the past 10 months we've invested nearly $20 million into our facilities," Ritvo said. "The support from horsemen has been wonderful. Mr. Stronach believes there is great potential in Maryland racing, but we must continue to improve our business. We must have a high level of integrity, have a safe environment for our customers, take care of our retired horses, widen our network of fans, and continue to grow the business."
Though the Laurel grandstand and clubhouse have been the focus of this year's upgrades, Ritvo reiterated the 2016 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) will be held at Pimlico Race Course. The MJC earlier this year publicly discussed the possibility of eventually moving the second leg of the Triple Crown to Laurel.
"This place is going to be world-class," said Bruce Quade, a member of the Maryland Racing Commission. "Believe me—The Stronach Group is walking the walk. Maryland racing's best days are yet to come."
Ritvo again mentioned that the MJC is interested a future bid to host the Breeders' Cup World Championships.