Maryland Factions Strike Deal; 'Special' Suspended

The Maryland Jockey Club and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association reached a four-year deal Feb. 27 that resolves conflict that has lingered for years over racing dates and stakes schedules. As part of the deal, though, the grade I Pimlico Special will be suspended for 2002.

"This is the beginning of a new era of cooperation" MJC president Joe De Francis said. "Both sides made some difficult compromises. Peace within the industry is a step in the right direction."

"t was never our intention to drop the Pimlico Special, but it was of paramount importance to the horsemen that we do so because of the loss of the (purse) subsidy," said Lou Raffetto, chief operating officer of the MJC. "However, we have a signed agreement that guarantees its renewal in 2003, regardless of the dollars available for the purses."

Live racing dates for the remainder of the 2002 Thoroughbred racing season were by the Maryland Racing Commission Feb. 27.

After the current Laurel winter meet ends March 30, the MJC moves live racing to Pimlico Race Course April 3-June 16. After the Pimlico spring meet, live racing will move to Colonial Downs in Virginia from June 21-July 23. Two days later, racing will return to Maryland for the 22-day summer meet at Laurel Park f from July 25 to Aug. 23).

The Maryland State Fair at Timonium meet is slated for Aug. 24-Sept. 2. Pimlico will then reopen and races from Sept. 4-Oct. 5. (The Maryland Million will again be held at Old Hilltop in 2002.) Laurel will reopen Oct. 8 and run through the end of the year.