The Maryland Racing Commission has had a busy few months, what with its work on the 10-year racing deal, the initiative to boost breeding in the state, and revisions to the medication rules.  The Commission continued its work today on three primary fronts.  It…

  1. Gave final approval, on a 4-1 vote, to regulations eliminating the use of adjunct bleeder medications, providing for the standardized list of 24 allowed medications, and allowing the raceday administration of Lasix (fuller description here).  Those regulations, which will now take place on January 1, 2014, have caused some controversy in Maryland, with some veterinarians and members of the standardbred industry pleading for adjunct meds to continue to be allowed.  Veterinarian George Harmening told the Commission today that prohibiting the use of adjuncts would be an “inhumane decision,” but the Commission, which had already given preliminary approval to the new policies, decided to stay the course.  Voting for the final regs were Commission chair Bruce Quade and commissioners Thomas Winebrener, Charles Tildon, and David Hayden.  Commissioner Louis Ulman opposed them.
  2. Took the next steps to make the new program to enhance moneys available to Maryland-breds a reality.  After a series of fits and starts, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association finalized an agreement last week (here) that will allow the program to proceed substantially as the Commission envisioned it: ultimately, owners and breeders are slated to receive 30 percent bonuses for Maryland-breds that finish in the money, while stallion owners receive a 10 percent bonus.  The Commission today endorsed that agreement, and it agreed to take the necessary regulatory steps — including modifying one proposed regulation and eliminating another — to make it happen.  During the 2013 meet, owner bonuses will remain as they were earlier in the year — 17.5 percent paid to winners only — while breeder bonuses will be 30 percent win-place-show and stallion bonuses 10 percent.  Commissioner David Hayden, a breeder himself, hailed the accord and the program that will follow.  “The buzz is out on the new Maryland program,” he told the Commission.
  3. Deferred action on the claim-voiding rules.  Back in July, the Commission had voted to adopt rules allowing claims to be voided in certain circumstances, but as reported in The Racing Biz in August (here), those rules ran aground when both the racetrack and some Commissioners expressed concern.  Today, chairman Quade recommended that the Commission reopen discussions of its Health and Safety Committee.  While the rule has widespread support in concept, exactly what it should include remains a matter of discussion; in addition, there was among the Commissioners and its legal counsel some uncertainty as to what exactly the Commission had done at its July meeting.  The Commission is expected to consider a revised (and clarified) version of the rule at its October meeting.