Nothing Definitive Yet on Change at MJC

Change may be in the wind yet again regarding upper-level Maryland Jockey Club management, but as of May 15, officials with MJC owner Magna Entertainment Corp. said there’s nothing to announce.

As Pimlico Race Course prepared to host the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), second leg of the Triple Crown, word circulated that MJC president Chris Dragone, hired about six months ago, was let go. Dragone has said he needs to concentrate on Preakness preparations and would have no further comment.

Tom Chuckas, who formerly ran Rosecroft Raceway, a Maryland harness track, reportedly is in line for the MJC presidency. When asked May 15 if he now works at the MJC, Chuckas said he is serving as a special consultant to MEC chairman Frank Stronach.

Earlier the week of May 11, Stronach told the Washington Post Dragone was leaving his post as the head of Laurel Park and Pimlico.

Scott Borgemenke, executive vice president of MEC, said May 15 Dragone continues to serve as MJC president and may continue to do so after the Preakness. He said MEC officials would have a meeting soon after the Preakness to discuss MJC management issues.

Borgemenke didn’t say whether Chuckas would take over as MJC president. Dragone took over from Lou Raffetto Jr., who was let go last fall and now works for the National Steeplechase Association.

During the May 15 Alibi Breakfast at Pimlico, Borgemenke made opening remarks usually made by the MJC president. Spotted at the breakfast was Joe De Francis, the former MJC president and MEC executive whose sister, Karin, received a special award of merit for her contributions to Maryland racing.

The MEC stir comes as Maryland is preparing for a November referendum on slot machines. It still hasn’t been decided whether any racetracks would get slots should the ballot question pass, though it’s widely believed Laurel and Ocean Downs, an Eastern Shore harness track, are two of the likely locations.

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