Maryland Horsemen Want Racing in June, July

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has reiterated its position that live racing shouldn't be suspended in the state in June and July, and that Colonial Downs in Virginia should continue to offer Thoroughbred racing in September and early October.

Colonial Downs has been awarded dates from June 10-July 14 this year. Meanwhile, the Maryland Racing Commission has approved racing dates through June 9 at Pimlico Race Course. The commission is expected to address the issue of summer dates at its March meeting.

The Maryland THA, at a meeting March 1, "overwhelmingly reaffirmed its position" on dates, said Richard Hoffberger, the organization's president. The Maryland THA prefers that racing continue at Pimlico or Laurel Park through the summer, and that Colonial hold a meet of not more than 25 days after Labor Day.

About 75% of the horses that compete in Virginia are Maryland-based horses. The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel and Pimlico, runs the races meets at Colonial.

Hoffberger, in a prepared statement, said protection of Maryland racing is a priority even though horsemen "recognize the importance of being good neighbors. Concerns of Maryland horsemen include a projected loss of at least $400,000 in purses; competition from professional football in the Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C., markets in September and October; and difficulties shipping to Colonial during peak vacation months.