State officials pledge continued support for Maryland horse industry

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Jan. 30, 2018

Representatives of the Maryland horse industry Jan. 30 received yet another endorsement by state officials, who in turn pledged to continue their work protecting and nurturing the industry.

Well over 100 people, not counting lawmakers and other officials, took part in the annual Horse Industry Day at the Senate Office Building in Annapolis. The event provides an opportunity for those in the horse industry to meet with legislators or members of their staff either individually or in small groups to discuss issues in their districts.

“We have an open door for all of you,” said Kelly Schulz, Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, under which the Maryland Racing Commission falls. “We mean business with that. I won’t get into specific details about any legislation, but we want to let you know you have a friend here.

“The most important thing, be it budgetary or about policy, is working together toward the same end goal. This is the best environment in the entire country for racing.”

Schulz, appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan, said she had the opportunity to travel to California and attend last year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships, an event Hogan is interested in bringing to Maryland. She indicate the feedback on what’s going on in Maryland Thoroughbred racing was very positive.

“People are talking about Maryland all over the country because of the foothold and placement we’re in,” Schulz said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the fruits of our labor over the next few months (and beyond).”

David Brinkley, Secretary of Budget and Management, said it’s important to educate a public that for the most part isn’t aware of what goes into building, owning, or managing a farm, as well as paying for it. He said when the Maryland legislature passed casino gambling with a provision that the racing industry would receive a cut of video lottery terminal revenue, it was about more than purses helping owners and breeders.

“They have a trickle-down effect,” Brinkley said of purses. “A successful racing industry trickles down to everybody else. Our mission is to be advocates for your success. Remember, legislators have so much information coming across their desks, so it’s important for you to maintain conversations not only today but the other 364 days a year.

“Maintain yourself as a presence.”

“It’s a great industry,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. said. “We need to preserve it, we need to protect it, and we need to enhance it.”

There were several presentations on Horse Industry Day, including one by the Maryland Horse Breeders Association to honor Dr. Amy Burke, who heads the University of Maryland Equine Studies Program. The program has branched out into breeding Thoroughbreds and sport horses.

“The purpose of the program is to give students real-life experiences,” Burke said, noting some students have landed jobs in the equine industry both in and out of Maryland. “The support from people in the horse industry has been a big thing for the program.”

A look at Maryland racing’s legislative agenda for 2018 is available here.

(Maryland Horse Industry Day photo by Tom LaMarra)