Maryland horsemen and the operators of Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course have averted a shutdown of thoroughbred racing, reaching a six-month operating agreement announced Tuesday at a meeting of the Maryland Racing Commission.
Both sides said the pact will allow business to operate essentially as usual while they wait to hammer out a longer-term agreement akin to the one that has governed profit-sharing, scheduling and other issues between the horsemen and track operators over the last decade.
Mike Rogers, president of the racing division of 1/ST Racing, which operates Laurel and Pimlico, announced the deal without offering much detail. But Alan Foreman, general counsel for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, said the industry will operate “under similar terms” to those in a previous extension agreed to for the start of this year.
If the deal had been allowed to expire, no races could have been run after June 30.
Foreman said the sides will revisit negotiations later this year, after the Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority, created by the Maryland General Assembly to plan for the future of the tracks, takes shape.
The future of the industry is uncertain, with plans to redevelop Laurel and Pimlico up in the air because of surging costs and planning complexities. Officials from the MTHA and 1/ST Racing have said Pimlico is now the most likely future home for Maryland racing, but the timeline and shape of such a plan are unclear. The new racetrack authority could make recommendations by the end of this year, setting the stage for the General Assembly to weigh in on the future of Laurel and Pimlico next year.