Cordish wins, Horse Racing loses as AA County approves Arundel Mills slots

November 03, 2010 | Drew Forrester

If you equate it to a horse race, David Cordish won by 10 lengths on Tuesday in Maryland.

Anne Arundel County voters rewarded Cordish for nearly two years of blood, sweat and tears by a margin of 56%-44%, paving the way (finally, perhaps) for the county’s VLT (slots) site to open at Arundel Mills Mall.

The only bigger loser than Laurel Park and the Maryland Jockey Club on Tuesday was the state of Maryland in general, but our returning Governor will fix it all.  Or not.

I was at Laurel Park on Tuesday night to soak it all in with officials from the MJC and it was apparent from the outset of the night – once polls closed – that they weren’t feeling good about their prospects.

“It’s early, but the initial returns aren’t promising,” said one MJC employee around 8:45 pm.

Two hours later when the second surge of votes were published and Cordish maintained a 10,000 vote lead with 40% of the precincts returned, it was all but over.

And when the final tallies were released, MJC President Tom Chuckas continued to maintain that horse racing was going to suffer because of the voting decision.  ”We continue to believe the best location for VLT terminals is Laurel Park.  We’ll now consult with the Maryland Racing Commission to enact the changes required as a result of this lost opportunity at Laurel Park.”

The changes Chuckas refers to could potentially include the closing and sale of the property at the Bowie Training Center and the sale of nearly 300 acres of property used for training at Laurel Park.  Last week, Chuckas maintained that Laurel Park would close for live racing if the slots bill at Arundel Mills passed.

A Maryland Jockey Club official confirmed those plans on Tuesday night.  ”That wasn’t an idle threat.  Without slots at Laurel Park, live racing just can’t continue there, particularly with VLT’s 10 miles away at the Mall.  So M.I.D. (the parent company of Magna Entertainment, which owns the track) will begin the process of determining how to develop those properties (Laurel and Bowie) and we’ll move all live racing and training to Pimlico in Baltimore.”

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