Purse account, status of Pimlico discussed at MD commission meeting

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: April 29, 2017

The Maryland Purse Dedication Account, which is fueled by revenue from video lottery terminals at the state’s six casinos, totaled $5.09 million in March, the highest amount for the fiscal year that began in July 2016.

The figures were discussed April 27 during the monthly Maryland Racing Commission meeting. The increase was aided by the opening of MGM National Harbor casino in December 2016.

Under the statutory splits, Thoroughbreds earned $4.07 million, or 80% of the account. Standardbreds received $1.01 million.

For the first three months of 2017, the Purse Dedication Account has accrued $14.17 million. For all of 2016, the total was about $50 million.

In other business, the MRC approved a request from the Maryland Jockey Club for a 33-day spring/summer meet at Laurel Park from early June through late August with racing three days a week. The Maryland State Fair at Timonium meet for late August through Labor Day also was approved by the MRC.

When asked by the MRC about the future of Pimlico Race Course, which is the subject of a study commissioned by the Maryland Stadium Authority, Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, said the company “is still open to any options.”

He said the company, which owns and operates the MJC, doesn’t intend to contribute funds to rebuild Pimlico, home of the Preakness, but is open to operating racing there if the MSA finds funding for a rebuild of the facility. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan earlier said the first phase of the study is only the beginning of the examination into the feasibility of a Pimlico rebuild.

MJC President and General Manager Sal Sinatra said plans for off-track betting facilities at the MGM National Harbor south of Washington, D.C., and a smaller location at Greenmount Station restaurant in Hampstead in north-central Maryland continue to progress. He also said interior improvements at Rosecroft Raceway, which offers live harness racing is a major Thoroughbred simulcast facility, are continuing in the first floor of the clubhouse.

The MRC also welcomed a new member, Clarissa Coughlin, whose family has a history in Maryland harness racing. Coughlin also is actively involved in the Maryland Horse Council.

(Photo by Tom LaMarra)