HANDLE JUMPS AT TIMONIUM
All sources handle rose about 25 percent during the recently completed Timonium meeting, Maryland State Fair general manager Andy Cashman told the Maryland Racing Commission today at its monthly meeting at Laurel Park.
That meant a rise from about $2.5 million wagered during the seven-day meet in 2014 to about $3.1 million this year.
“We really had a great fair,” Cashman said. “People were betting, so that’s a great thing.”
Cashman cited a trio of factors that may have helped bolster wagering. Among those was enhanced marketing.
“We did a lot more PR and marketing on that, and I think that helped get people into the grandstand,” he said.
He also believed that the facility’s new grandstand restaurant helped.
“People were coming [to the restaurant] and sitting and staying and having a good time,” he said.
And finally, he said that the My Maryland Horse Festival/HorseLand helped to get fair-goers excited about the racetrack. HorseLand drew more than 12,000 visitors, said the Maryland Horse Industry Board’s Ross Peddicord.
“How else do you get that number of people to expose them to horse racing and to horses in general in a short period of time?” Peddicord wondered. “We feel very happy that we were able to do that, and we hope that it will keep people going to the racetrack.”
Peddicord said he wasn’t sure if HorseLand had any impact on handle, but, he pointed out, “It certainly didn’t hurt.”
“I think it was a tremendous success,” Peddicord added.
MARYLAND RACING COMMISSION TO IMPLEMENT QUALITY ASSURANCE PROGRAM
The Maryland Racing Commission will bolster its equine drug testing program by adding a quality assurance component, Commission chairman Bruce Quade said today.
Quade called the new initiative “good scientific protocol and process.”
Quade said that under the new initiative, the Commission will send splits of randomly selected cleared samples to the University of Pennsylvania’s Equine Toxicology and Research Laboratory for backup testing.
Maryland’s primary testing lab is Truesdail Laboratories of Irvine, CA, one of the handful of labs accredited by the Racing Medication Testing and Consortium (RMTC). That lab has come under fire after the Indiana Horse Racing Commission discovered it had missed seven positives in a 26-day period, among them one for a Class 1 violation, the most serious type. Several states had previously acted either to sever their ties with Truesdail or to implement quality assurance programs, but Maryland officials have said that they have no concerns over the lab’s efforts and Quade said that this latest move was not in response to the widely reported issues.
“It’s good management and good policy to have checks and balances in the program,” he said.
He added that he expected that the Commission might modify the quality assurance program in the future to ensure that it meets the Commission’s goals.
“We have a program instituted that will be optimized as we go along,” he said.
COMMISSION ADOPTS NEW REGS
The Commission adopted three new regulations today:
- A regulation which received the final nod will conform Maryland’s rules to the RMTC’s recommended threshold on cobalt;
- A regulation which received first passage — it must then go through a public comment period before final adoption — will conform the state’s rules to the RMTC threshold on gamma amino butryic acid (GABA), an endogenous substance which acts as a kind of mild tranquilizer; and
- A regulation governing which shoes horses may wear in turf races.
- The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) has begun a review of contracts with advance deposit wagering companies to ensure those contracts are “a fair situation in the current market,” said accountant Craig Gegorek. It will report back to the Commission “in the near future,” he said.
- The MTHA and Maryland Jockey Club kicked off the new “Horseman’s Health System,” developed with MedStar Health, which provides horsemen both on-site medical care during race days and also primary care year-round. The new facility, adjacent to the horseman’s office at Laurel, saw some 20 patients this past weekend, said MTHA executive secretary David Richardson.
- On the sulky side, Ocean Downs completed its recent meet with a 28 percent increase in handle, according to the track’s Peter Szymanski. When asked by commissioner Mary Louise Preis for three factors in the increase, Szymanski drew laughs with his joking response: “Me,” he said.