Maryland Racing Commission


Minutes of Public Meeting - August 18, 2009

Commission Members Present:

John B. Franzone
Louis Ulman
Frank Favazza
John P. McDaniel
William Gerweck
Charles Tildon, III
Mary Louise Preis
David Hayden
Members Absent:

David Clogg
Staff Present Representing the Maryland Racing Commission:

J. Michael Hopkins,

Executive Director
Robert Cassidy,
Deputy Director
Bruce C. Spizler
Senior Assistant Attorney General

In accordance with the Notice of Public Meeting, as required by State Government Article, §10-506, Annotated Code of Maryland, the Maryland Racing Commission ("Commission") met in open session on August 18, 2009, commencing at 12:30 P.M., in the Clubhouse at Laurel Park, Laurel, Md. 20725.


The Commission waived a reading of the minutes of its July 21, 2009 meeting and voted to approve the minutes.

Regulations - Final Approval.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with the following regulations which had been publicized in the Maryland Register for the appropriate length of time for the Commission's final approval. The Commission unanimously approved for final adoption: Reward To Breeders Super High Five Foaled Stakes Program Sire Stakes Program

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with amended regulation - Appeals of Stewards or Judges Decisions for final adoption. Commissioner Lou Ulman commented that he did not agree with the amendment; and that a person should have the right to appeal judgment decisions made by the Stewards or Judges. Alan Foreman, representing the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, together with Wayne Wright, Executive Director of MTHA, and Dale Capuano, an MTHA Board member, agreed with Commissioner Ulman and stated that the current process of appeal was fair and should not be changed.

Commissioner Mary Louise Preis recalled that, when this regulation was originally proposed, she had requested that a review process be put in place; so that the Commission would have the ability to review the decisions being made by the Stewards and Judges, and that a daily report be created in order for the Commissioners' to review the actions taken by the Stewards and Judges including the Stewards and Judges actual votes. Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins responded by noting that such a report has been created and is completed on a daily basis. Mr. Hopkins also noted that a periodic review process has not been established at this time due to the previous vacancy in the Steward stand; however, since the vacancy now has been filled, such a review process would be initiated.

After further discussion and hearing from Dale Capuano, a thoroughbred horse trainer, and Sharon Roberts, the Executive Director of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association Commissioner, each opposed to the Commission's proposed amendment to the regulation, Commissioner Bill Gerweck made a motion to withdraw the proposed regulation. Commissioner Lou Ulman seconded the motion; and the motion passed 6-2 (Chairman John Franzone and Commissioner Mary Louise Preis voting against the motion to withdraw).

Proposed Regulations.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a proposal to amend regulation COMAR to increase the maximum height of a toe grab from 2 millimeters to 4 millimeters. Mr. Hopkins noted that a number of horses had stumbled at Delaware Park at the start of a race which purportedly was caused by the short toe grabs; and that increasing the height of the toe grabs would help eliminate stumbles at the start of a race. The Commission unanimously approved the amendment; and also voted to have this proposal submitted as an emergency regulation; so as not to delay its implementation.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a proposed amendment to that would require a jockey to use a padded whip approved by the stewards during the running of the race. Chairman John Franzone requested to have the regulation tabled in order for Larry Saumell, the Jockeys Guild's representative, be in attendance at the next Commission meeting to discuss this, and other, safety issues. The Commission agreed to table this amendment.

Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins presented the Commission with a new regulation, COMAR - Jockey Challenge. Mr. Hopkins explained to the Commissioners that this regulation had undergone several drafts between the Maryland Jockey Club and commission staff. Commissioner Ulman commented that the proposed section, requiring a refund if a jockey does not ride the horse to which the jockey is assigned and the jockey is not re-assigned to another horse, does not take into account a bettor who makes a Jockey Challenge wager toward the end of betting on a particular horse and not only the jockey.. Commissioner Ulman suggested that the proposed language be changed to permit points to be awarded upon the actual finish of the horse to which the jockey had been assigned even though the jockey did not ride that horse. The Commission unanimously adopted the new regulation, together with change proposed by Commissioner Ulman.

Public Questions or Comments.

Chairman Franzone asked if anyone in the audience had any further comment or concerns they wished to discuss. An individual from the audience asked if there was any status regarding the appointments of new Commission members; and if anyone had submitted an application to own and operate Rosecroft. Chairman Franzone responded that he was not aware of any movement regarding the appointment of new Commissioners; and Executive Director J. Michael Hopkins said that he had received some documents regarding the possible sale of Rosecroft. Hearing no other comments, the Commission voted to go into an Executive Session for the purpose of receiving legal advice from the Commission's legal counsel regarding: (1) the bankruptcy proceedings of MEC and CEI, respectively; and (2) the respective thoroughbred and standardbred racetrack employee pension plans. Accordingly, the Public Meeting was adjourned at 1:50 p.m.

Executive Session.

Immediately following its Public Meeting, the Commission went into Executive Session at 1;50 p.m. Bruce C. Spizler, Senior Assistant Attorney General, provided the Commission with an update of the legal proceedings regarding both the MEC and CEI bankruptcy proceedings, respectively; specifically, discussing the legal matters directly involving the Commission. He also advised the Commission of a recent development regarding the controversies involving the thoroughbred and standardbred racetrack employee pension plans.The Commission adjourned its Executive Session at 2:45 p.m.

Next Commission Meeting.

The next Commission meeting will be held on September 15, 2009 at Laurel Race Course beginning at 12:30 P.M.

J. Michael Hopkins
Executive Director