MRC Report: Change Is In The Air

The Maryland Racing Commission meeting Dec. 20 at Laurel Park marked a changing of the guard, but the message was one of unity.

It was the first meeting for two new members: Chairman Michael Algeo and Konrad Wayson. Algeo, a retired Montgomery County Circuit Court judge, said he hopes to continue the forward momentum in the Maryland racing industry.

“I can assure you I will do everything in my power to make sure horse racing goes in the same direction it has been going,” Algeo said. “My hope is to make certain that peace in the valley continues.”

Outgoing chairman John McDaniel, who had served on the MRC for about 30 years, attended the meeting to congratulate the new members and offer his thoughts on the future. He received a standing ovation after his remarks.

“The economic strength and growth potential of the racing industry is better today than I’ve seen it in the last 30 years,” McDaniel said. “I’m very pleased and optimistic as the former racing commission chairman and as a breeder and owner with where the future is headed, and I’m humbled and gratified by the ability to serve the state in a spirit of cooperation.”

He also said with a laugh: “I’m putting new fencing in around the farm.”

On the business end, the MRC unanimously adopted the revised Multiple Medication Violation Penalty System—part of the National Uniform Medication Program—that was approved by the Association of Racing Commissioners International board of directors Dec. 9.

The MRC granted “emergency” approval to expedite the rule.

Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Chairman Alan Foreman, who also serves as Vice Chairman of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, noted the MRC was among the jurisdictions that requested the MMV structure be revisited.

“The catalyst for the program was a desire by the industry to identify those trainers who commit multiple medication violations,” Foreman told the MRC. “The Mid-Atlantic group was the first to adopt it, but it has since been sporadic in its adoption.”

Foreman noted state attorneys general had issues approving the system because it didn’t allow enough discretion for stewards regarding suspensions. A committee of industry stakeholders, regulators and attorneys met to devise modifications, which the ARCI said it would approve if there was broad support.

ARCI officials and others said they believe the MMV changes will facilitate further adoption of the model rule as well as the overall uniform medication program. Points assigned for Class A and Class B violations weren’t altered.

MRC member Dr. Thomas Bowman, a Thoroughbred breeder and owner, said NUMP has been a major development for the industry.

“This is a remarkable accomplishment,” Bowman said. “We will continue to fight residual amounts of therapeutic medications and where they affect or don’t affect the horse. We will continue to refine it. But I don’t think anybody in their right mind thinks (trace amounts of legal therapeutic medication) has any effect on the performance of the horse.”

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