Maryland Racing to Get $4.5M for Purses

The embattled racing industry in Maryland will receive $4.5 million--not $3 million as expected--from the state for Thoroughbred and Standardbred purses and breeders' funds. The money will become available July 1.

At a meeting May 22 of the Maryland Racing Commission, Bruce Spizler, the assistant attorney general who represents the commission, said the intent of legislation passed in April by the General Assembly was to provide $4.5 million for purses and breeders' funds. There had been uncertainty over how much Sen. Thomas Bromwell, who introduced the ambiguously worded bill, had intended for purses.

The money would come from a fund originally created to back bonds that were to be sold to finance track improvements. The state never sold the bonds, and the plan fell apart. The fund has been financed by a 1.5% pari-mutuel takeout increase that, when enacted, was justified as the only way to raise money to upgrade the racetracks. The takeout has not been reduced, though racing leaders vow to do that by state statute in the General Assembly early next year.

The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, announced it has reinstated two graded stakes at Laurel this summer: the grade III, $150,000 Martha Washington Breeders' Cup July 27, and the grade III, $100,000 Safely Kept Stakes Sept. 14.

Meanwhile, when patrons return to Pimlico in September for the fall meet that features the Maryland Million, they will be greeted by a new toteboard in the infield, track officials said.

Management ordered the old toteboard boarded up, and a 26-by-32-foot video screen was erected for the spring meet at Pimlico. After they received so many complaints, management decided to have a new toteboard built.

The large screen, known as LumatronX, is difficult to see from certain vantage points, especially when it reflects afternoon sunlight. Also, it doesn't display as much information as the old toteboard.

Officials said they didn't know yet what the new toteboard would look like or how large it would be. It would be erected near LumatronX, which is situated behind the finish line.