MTHA Will Propose Change in Claiming Rule to MRC

The MTHA Board of Directors Jan. 27 voted to request that the Maryland Racing Commission make a change in a rule regarding claimed horses.

Under the current rule, the new owner of a claimed horse, should it be entered and run within 30 days, must race the horse at a claiming price 25% higher than the price for which it was claimed. Under the MTHA request, the 30-day window would be reduced to 20 days.

MTHA board members made it clear the change can only be made by the MRC. The board acted in response to concerns voiced by trainers who attended the Jan. 27 meeting.

Most of the trainers said the current rule, coupled with a three-day racing week at Laurel Park for most of the year, hinders their ability to provide earnings opportunities for owners who claim horses. They also said the tightening of therapeutic medication rules over the past three years has perhaps negated the need to mandate that a horse race at higher claiming price in the start after it’s claimed.

MTHA board member Larry Johnson, a racehorse owner, supports the current rule but offered the compromise in light of the racing schedule in Maryland and the concerns from horsemen who fill races.

The rule was established in 2013 in the wake of a series of catastrophic breakdowns at a time when purses were increasing because of revenue from casino video lottery terminals. MTHA attorney Alan Foreman said the racing commission at that time recommended and adopted the change; the breakdown rate declined in conjunction with the changes in medication rules.

Perception by the public and heightened scrutiny by animal rights’ groups were factors in the rule change several years ago.

In other business, the MTHA board said it has contracted with John Passero as a consultant to examine the depth and cushion of the Laurel dirt surface and also assess how the surface is being maintained. The MTHA will then share the information with the Maryland Jockey Club.


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