Maryland Racing Commission

MRC To Remove Testing Thresholds for Corticosteroids

Edited Press Release The Maryland Racing Commission, upon the recommendation of its Equine Safety, Health and Welfare Advisory Committee, has approved a motion to modify a regulation on five corticosteroids to eliminate testing threshold levels and employ level of detection for the substances. The MRC took the action at its Sept. 23 meeting at Laurel Park. The change will be filed with emergency status and there will be public comment period. Given the regulatory process involved in rule-making, it is anticipated the update regulation will be implemented Nov. 1. The...

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Massive Laurel Horse Move-Out Preakness Week

Difficulties with the dirt track base repair and cushion resurfacing project at Laurel Park continue to mount, with the loose-ended timetable for the work now expected to extend at least until the start of July. Executives with The Stronach Group (TSG), which owns both Laurel and Pimlico Race Course, said during a Friday tele-meeting that they now need to pause work on the problematic and expensive project at Laurel until management can relocate of all horses stabled at Laurel to other facilities in Maryland. This news was delivered two weeks...

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June Now Best Guess for Laurel's Main Track to Be Fixed

Mounting problems that have forced the closure of the main dirt track at Laurel Park are now tentatively anticipated to be fixed by the start of June. But difficulties related to the sourcing and testing of materials for the base and cushion are keeping the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) from setting an exact timetable for the return of racing and training at its primary venue. On Thursday, the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) met at Laurel for the board's first in-person monthly meeting since the onset of the pandemic. But Laurel's...

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No Lasix in Maryland's Graded Stakes Starting in 2021

The Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) voted unanimously  Wednesday to expand a race-day Lasix ban that began this year with 2-year-olds to include horses of any age competing in graded stakes starting in 2021. "A few months ago, the commission passed an emergency regulation restricting Lasix to any horse that's two years old for the next three years, as part of [a negotiated] agreement between the HBPA and The Stronach Group," J. Michael Hopkins, the MRC's executive director, explained prior to the vote during the Dec. 2 teleconference meeting. "Moving forward,...

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Timonium's 10-Day Meet Could Extend Beyond Maryland State Fair in '21

The Timonium race meet that got scrapped because of the pandemic this summer could to be back in action in 2021. The Maryland Racing Commission approved a 10-date slate for next year at its Oct. 22 meeting, with a new wrinkle to the schedule. "One thing that is a little different here, they're also requesting, in addition to the seven days they normally would run during the state fair, [permission to operate Sept.] 10th, 11th and 12, which is a weekend after the fair is closed," J. Michael Hopkins, the...

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Laurel to Expand to 4-Day Weekly Schedule in October

Even as Pimlico Race Course opened Sept. 24 for its two-weekend, GI Preakness S. mini-meet, work was being done at Laurel Park to prepare for a return to a four-day weekly schedule when the Oct. 8-Dec. 31 meet resumes there. "It's all systems go up here at Pimlico. We're trying to get the old mare looking good for NBC, and we're looking forward to a really good event," Sal Sinatra, the president of the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC), which owns both tracks, told Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) members during Thursday's...

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Maryland Racing Commission Study to Scope Juveniles in Lasix-Free Races

The Maryland Equine Safety, Health and Welfare Advisory Committee, which falls under the Maryland Racing Commission, has approved a plan for post-race video endoscopies of all starters in 2-year-old races in the state through the end of the year. Details of the survey study designed to determine the extent of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging were released Tuesday morning by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and follows Sunday's announcement of an agreement to card Lasix-free 2-year-old races in the state through Dec. 31. Private veterinarians who practice at Laurel will conduct the...

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The Week in Review: Met Mile–and Vekoma–Both Benefit from Role Recasts

One of the most welcome schedule changes imposed upon the racing calendar by the COVID-19 pandemic was the repositioning of the GI Runhappy Metropolitan H. to headline status on the July 4 holiday at Belmont Park. In 2014, the Met Mile got yanked off its decades-long anchor as the Memorial Day feature in New York, reassigned to a supporting role on GI Belmont S. Day. This move was part of the prevalent (but not always aesthetically pleasing) national practice of stacking graded stakes on big-race Saturdays. It never felt like...

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New Maryland Whip Policy Starts Six-Strike Count at Quarter Pole

Effective Aug. 1, from the quarter pole to the finish wire, Maryland jockeys will be limited to six whip strikes--either overhanded or underhanded--with no more than two of those blows in succession without giving the horse a chance to respond. Prior to the quarter pole, jockeys will be allowed an unlimited number of strikes, provided they are delivered in an underhand manner, which is considered less harmful to horses. The Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) unanimously voted to approve the policy modification during its Thursday teleconference meeting. It's based on a...

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MD Commission Pushes Back on Lasix-Free 2YOs, The Stronach Group Vows to Write No Juvenile Races

After the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) on Thursday refused to vote or otherwise rule on a late agenda request to allow The Stronach Group (TSG) to card Lasix-free races for 2-year-olds, an attorney for the TSG-owned Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) told the commission that the MJC-owned Laurel Park wouldn't be scheduling any juvenile races at all under the present rules that allow the use of the controversial anti-bleeding medication. "We currently [don't] have, and I don't believe we will have, any intent of carding a 2-year-old race under the condition...

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Laurel 28-Date Summer Meet Approved to Start Saturday

The Laurel Park summer race meet is a go, starting Saturday. A 28-date schedule was approved by a unanimous teleconference vote of the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) at its Thursday meeting. After an initial Saturday-through-Monday, three-date opening spanning May 30-June 1, Fridays and Saturdays will be the primary live racing dates through Aug. 22 (a Monday, June 8, program is also scheduled, according to the Laurel calendar). Alan Rifkin, an attorney for the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC), which owns Laurel, explained to the commission the rationale behind scaling back to...

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