The Maryland Million Committee yesterday rejected a proposal from the board of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association to revise some of the changes the committee plans to make in race conditions for its Oct. 9 card.
But Richard Wilcke, executive director of the Maryland Million, said next year his organization will alter the process the committee goes through to make race changes and will seek more input from the MTHA.
"We're apologetic to the horsemen, but to make the changes that they want now would hold up release of our condition book even further," Wilcke said. "The problems we encountered this year were a matter of timing. The horsemen learned too late about the changes and our board learned too late that the horsemen were not satisfied."
The MTHA board expressed its dismay over some race-condition changes earlier this month by suspending its financial contribution, about $200,000, to the day's festivities. The board reversed that decision Thursday night and asked the committee to consider changes to certain races.
"We're disappointed the changes that we requested weren't made," said MTHA president Richard Hoffberger. "But at least they've agreed to change their format [for making race condition changes] next year."
At the center of the controversy are the distances of the two 2-year-old races and the Distaff race. They will be lengthened from six to seven furlongs this year.
Wilcke said the Maryland Million condition book will be available at the Pimlico racing office on Tuesday.
In related action, the MTHA has voted to present its yearly awards at the organization's annual Christmas party instead of at the Maryland Million "Breakfast of Champions."
New MTHA board elected
A majority of the current board members of the MTHA earned re-election after mail-in ballots were counted yesterday in Laurel. A total of 723 ballots were cast, the largest number in an MTHA election.
Five newcomers have been elected for three-year terms to the 15-member panel, which represents about 3,000 Maryland thoroughbred horse owners and trainers.
The new board consists of seven owners -- Howard Bender, Phil Capuano, Linda Gaudet, Arnold Heft, Richard Hoffberger, J.W.Y. Martin Jr. and Richard Meyer -- and eight trainers -- Linda Albert, Ferris Allen III, Donald Barr, Charlie Hadry, Jack Mobberley, Jerry Robb, Paul Seefeldt and Katy Voss.
Bender, Albert, Barr, Seefeldt and Voss are new members although Voss has served previously.
Hoffberger, who has been president of the organization for six years, said he felt the election showed confidence in the current board.
"I think we've been particularly successful in two areas," Hoffberger said. "First, we've been active in backstretch affairs through funding a strong pension plan, health fairs and recreational activities for backstretch employees. Secondly, from a business point of view, we negotiated a 50-50 split with track management on off-track betting and commingling deals which is the best arrangement any horsemen's group in the country has made with management."
Wayne Wright, executive director of the MTHA, said, "It's a well-informed group. We are represented by big outfits, little outfits, a good cross-section."
OTB site hearing
The Maryland Racing Commission will hold a public hearing on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m. in Cambridge at the Shoals Restaurant and Quality Inn concerning the use of the facility as an off-track betting parlor. The Cambridge site would be the state's third OTB outlet.
Down to the wire
Leading jockey and trainers' races are going down to the wire at the current Laurel meet, which ends tomorrow. Going into today's card, jockey Larry Reynolds leads apprentice Austreberto Salazar by one victory and trainer Dale Capuano is one win ahead of King Leatherbury.
Maryland trainers Vinnie Blengs and Voss won races yesterday at Saratoga. . . . He Is Risen will be scratched from the Broad Brush Handicap at Laurel today and will run instead tomorrow in a $27,000 allowance race. Greg Hutton rides Gala Spinaway in the Broad Brush. Two sons of Broad Brush, Frottage and Straight Forward, are entered in the eight-horse race.