MRC approves regulations, changes in MD-bred bonuses

The Maryland Racing Commission Aug. 27 took action on regulations regarding shock wave therapy, Lasix in graded stakes, and continuing education for trainers, and also approved a change in bonus payments under the Maryland Bred Race Fund.

Regarding shock wave therapy, new language will ban its use 10 days before a workout or breeze. The current regulation pertains only to use of shock wave therapy within 10 days of a race.

The MRC in July passed an emergency regulation—it took effect in August—that prohibits administration of Lasix in 2-year-olds 48 hours before a race. The new language will also prohibit administration of Lasix to horses in graded stakes effective Jan. 1, 2021.

The Lasix changes are part of a pilot program that runs through 2023 under an agreement between the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and The Stronach Group, which owns Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.

The MRC also approved a regulation that will make continuing education part of the licensing process for trainers and assistant trainers beginning in January 2022. They will be required to take four hours worth of continuing education—online or in person—in 2021 and document it in order to be licensed for the following year.

Trainers and assistant trainers must keep records, which will be randomly audited. Two of the four hours must focus on equine health, safety and welfare as part of the Mid-Atlantic Strategic Plan to Reduce Equine Fatalities.

The three regulations approved by the MRC are subject to the customary public comment period

The changes in bonus payments was recommended by the Maryland Bred Race Fund Advisory Committee, which held two meetings before the MRC took action. In light of the shutdown of live racing for more than two months because of COVID-19 restrictions, and the resulting loss of revenue, the Maryland-bred breeders’ bonus will drop from 30% to 25%, and the stallion bonus will drop from 10% to 8.33%.

In addition, the Maryland-bred bonuses in stakes will be 13.75% instead of 15% for breeders, and 4.58% instead of 5% for stallion owners. The 30% owners’ bonus for each overnight race remains intact.

The advisory committee also recommended, and the MRC approved, that bonus payments earned from May 30—the day live racing resumed at Laurel after the COVID-19 shutdown—through July 31 will be paid as soon as they can be processed. The original plan was to not make payments until the end of September.

The advisory committee at a meeting in mid-August indicated that if there is a surplus at the end of 2020 bonus money can be paid retroactively.

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