H. Graham Motion, one of the most respected trainers in Maryland, has denounced the manner in which the Maryland Jockey Club has reassigned stalls and said that he will remove his horses from Laurel Park.
The 37-year-old English-born Motion said that he received notice Wednesday that he would have to reduce his stable from 36 to 24 horses for the upcoming Laurel meet, which begins next Wednesday. The cutback is part of MJC's consolidating horses at Laurel and Bowie after its announced closure of the Pimlico stables for the winter.
Motion said that he understood management's rationale for closing the barns at Pimlico to save money, but that he resented the short notice to cut his barn by a third.
"It's typical of the way management in Maryland does things," said the usually mild-mannered Motion. "I'm taking it as an eviction notice to get out of Maryland."
Motion, who trains some of the most richly bred horses in the state, said that he would divide his stable between Laurel and Gulfstream Park this winter. Next year, he said, he would expand his operation at Delaware Park and try to obtain stalls at the Fair Hill training center in northern Maryland.
Motion said the cutback notice was "the straw that broke the camel's back." He has become increasingly disillusioned over the downward spiral of racing in Maryland, he said.
"There's such a negative attitude in the whole place," Motion said.
Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, said that Motion's stall allotment was based on his support of the local racing program. If Motion wanted more stalls, Raffetto said, he could have requested them at Bowie.
Noting that trainers as a rule are generally unhappy - and many in Maryland are incensed over the stall reassignments - Raffetto said: "When everybody's unhappy that's a good sign. That means we're treating everybody fairly."