Maryland Horsemen: Maintain Current Schedule

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has rejected a plan by which Colonial Downs in Virginia would race in June and July, and has recommended to the Maryland Racing Commission it maintain the status quo on dates in the state.

Maryland THA members met Wednesday to discuss the racing schedules in Maryland and Virginia. The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, has been awarded dates through March 31, 2001.

"We recommended to the Maryland Racing Commission that Maryland be dark and Colonial race in September," said Alan Foreman, chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "It's obviously up to Virginia to decide. This throws it back into the lap of the Virginia Racing Commission."

Virginia's 2001 Thoroughbred schedule has been up in the air for months. There has been talk of a spring-summer meet at Colonial Downs, or two boutique-type meets, one in the spring and one in the fall. Since it opened in 1997, Colonial Downs has raced from early September through mid-October.

A task force recommended spring-summer racing in Virginia, but purse money would have to be borrowed, perhaps from the Maryland horsemen's purse account. Maryland owners and trainers provide about 75% of the stock that races at Colonial Downs.

The MJC operates the Thoroughbred meet at Colonial Downs, which heavily relies on simulcasting revenue. The MJC and horsemen have preferred to be dark in September, which is considered a slow month.