Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas was working the State House halls Wednesday, chatting with lawmakers as they filtered out of their morning floor sessions.
Horse racing interests and state officials are hashing out a long-term plan for the industry. Gov. Martin O’Malley has proposed to extend the state’s subsidy of operations at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course as the negotiations progress.
Chuckas said Wednesday discussions have been “limited” so far, but the parties are scheduled to meet next week.
“I think everyone wants peace in the valley,” he said. “Everybody wants a long term solution, but there are so many different interests involved.”
Laurel Park increased daily purses by $26,000, or 16 percent, this month thanks to subsidies coming from the state’s share of slot machine revenue at Hollywood Casino Perryville and Casino at Ocean Downs.
Chuckas said it was “too early to tell” what impact that would have on the health of the ailing thoroughbred tracks.
“We’re starting to see a few more horses, a little more quality,” he said. Hopefully, as more gaming facilities come on line, we’ll be able to bump them up again.”
Also on the horse racing front, Del. Justin Ross, D-Prince George’s, introduced a bill Tuesday to require the Maryland Stadium Authority (you know, the guys who oversee Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium) to study the feasibility of building another thoroughbred track in Maryland.
“Maryland is in the horse track business,” Ross said. “The hope is not to replace them (Pimlico and Laurel Park), but there may be a place where it makes more sense. You’ve seen where the growth is, in Frederick County and in Southern Maryland. Those are two options.”