Maryland Racing Commission

Maryland Commission Chair Resigns, Citing 'Emasculated' Powers

Michael Algeo, who has served on the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) since 2016 and was chairing that board, resigned from both positions, effective immediately, June 14. Frank Vespe of Maryland's "Off to the Races Radio" was first to report the scoop on his show's June 17 broadcast. Algeo's departure accentuates a time of regulatory upheaval within Maryland racing that in recent months has been marked by three other long-serving commissioners (David Hayden, Tom Bowman, Tom Winebrener) also either resigning from the MRC or not having their terms renewed by the...

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6-Mo. Extension to Maryland Racing Agreement; Details Not Disclosed

Tuesday's Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) meeting yielded the news that the state's horsemen, breeders, and the operator of Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park have agreed on yet another six-month extension agreement to keep racing going after a 10-year deal expired at the end of 2022. The placeholder agreement will go into effect for the final six months of 2023, and it follows a similar six-month extension reached earlier this year that is set to sunset June 30. The eventual goal is to come up with a longer-term contract. Mike...

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MRC Chairman Michael Algeo to be Honored at Alibi Breakfast

Michael Algeo, who was appointed to the Maryland Racing Commission in 2016 and currently serves as Chairman, will receive the Special Award of Merit at Pimlico's Alibi Breakfast. The Special Award of Merit, which recognizes those who have made a positive impact on the racing industry, has previously recognized industry stalwarts like Jim McKay, D. Wayne Lukas, Chick Lang, King Leatherbury, and Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. "When I received the call from [Maryland Jockey Club Acting President] Mike Rogers, I was both humbled and grateful," Algeo said. "When one looks at...

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Laurel 'Tweaks' Have Quelled Track Safety Concerns

Concerns over the safety of the troubled main dirt track at Laurel Park have quieted since racing was halted there Apr. 21-28. Mike Rogers, the president of the racing division for 1/ST Racing, which owns both Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, told the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) Tuesday that several "tweaks" to the maintenance routine represent the only significant changes to the surface since racing resumed Apr. 29. The tone was noticeably less tense and in-person attendance was diminished during the MRC's regular monthly meeting at Laurel May 2....

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Training Open As Laurel Cards Races For Saturday

Laurel Park will be open for training on Thursday and Friday, with the intent to run this Saturday, Apr. 29, Alan Foreman, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (THA), said by phone Wednesday afternoon. Last Saturday's cancelled Apr. 22 card of 98 entries included a pair of $100,000 races in the Native Dancer S. and the Primonetta S., scheduled for the main track. This time around, the racing office has taken 116 entries over 11 races with the same slate of five stakes. The decision...

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Laurel Track Woes: Passero To Consult, Pimlico Move On Hold For Now

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (MTHA) and the management team at 1/ST Racing announced an agreement Tuesday morning that will allow for the MTHA's preferred track maintenance consultant, John Passero, to be retained to perform testing that will hopefully lead to the latest round of fixes in a years-long series of safety woes that have plagued Laurel Park's main dirt track. The agreement, which was announced at an emergency meeting of the Maryland Racing Commission (MRC) Apr. 25, put off for the time being any action by the commission that...

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Progress At Laurel: Horsemen, Management Nearing Deal To Allow Passero To Examine Track

The impasse between Maryland horsemen and the Stronach Group regarding the condition of the main track at Laurel could be nearing a resolution as the two sides are close to an agreement to let John Passero examine the racetrack. Passero is the former track superintendent at Laurel and Pimlico and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (MTHA) has been insistent on letting him examine the track and have the final say regarding whether or not it was safe and, if not, what fixes were in order. The Stronach Group had brought...

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Laurel Horsemen Call Track Issues a “Catastrophic Emergency”

A few hours after the Maryland Jockey Club (MJC), which operates Laurel Park, put out a statement in which it said it had concluded "that there were no issues with the track and that it is safe to race and train," the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (MTHA) and the Maryland Horse Breeders' Association sent a joint email to Maryland Racing Commission Chairman Michael Algeo calling into question the safety of the track and calling the current situation a "catastrophic emergency." There have been off-and-on concerns about the main track at...

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Maryland Racetrack Authority Bill Passes House, Heads to Governor's Desk

Legislation which will create the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority (MTROA) was passed by the state's House of Representatives by a vote of 132-2 on Apr. 10, the last day of the state's 2023 General Assembly session. Previously Senate Bill 720 , which is designed to participate in the development of racing and training facilities in the state and operate in the best interests of Thoroughbred racing, passed the state Senate by a 47-0 vote Apr. 6. The bill also states that, "If necessary, the authority will manage and oversee...

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Citing Surface Concerns, Laurel Cancels Saturday's Card

In a press release sent out just 50 minutes before the post time for the day's first race, Laurel Park management announced that the Saturday card had been postponed. The reason given was an "abundance of caution to do a full evaluation of the racing surfaces." According to multiple sources, two horses broke down during training hours Saturday. One of the horses had to be euthanized and the other did not. There were no incidents during racing on Thursday and Friday. Maryland Jockey Club Acting President Mike Rogers sent a...

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Laurel to Swap Three Thursdays for Mondays in November

Laurel Park will swap out three Thursday racing dates for Mondays in November. The request was unanimously approved by a voice vote at the Oct. 4 Maryland Racing Commission meeting. Mike Rogers, the president of the racing division for the Maryland Jockey Club's Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, told commissioners that the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association was in favor of the switch. "It's kind of an experiment. We see that handle is a little bit low on the Thursdays, so we're going to see if we can get a...

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Sanchez Bet Heavily, And Sometimes Against Himself

When it was revealed that jockey Mychel Sanchez had gone on a betting spree that included wagers where he bet against the horses he was riding, his attorney Alan Pincus argued that this was not a matter of race fixing. Rather, Pincus said, Sanchez had turned to gambling as an outlet to combat his depression, let things spin out of control and in all cases did his best to win, even when it meant he might beat a horse he had bet on. "He was just doing something crazy that...

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