Funeral for a friend — So long horse industry (unless……)

November 03, 2010 | Drew Forrester

(BALTIMORE) — The Maryland horse racing industry passed away today after a lengthy illness.

That’s how you’d start the obituary.

The factors contributing to horse racing’s demise in Maryland will be the subject of much discussion and great scrutiny over the next few years, but here’s the sad, sad truth on November 3, 2010.

The horse industry in Maryland – from breeding to racing, from labor of love to means of employment – is dead.

There’s a race that will live on for the time being.  They’ll run the Preakness for a while, or until our state government either screws that up or the parent company decides to fight the legal battle and moves it elsewhere. But the Preakness will continue for the forseeable future in Baltimore. Make no mistake though – and as someone born and raised in Maryland who values all-things-we-call-our-own, this hurts me to write it – the horse industry in Maryland has perished.

The final whistle blew earlier this morning when the slots bill in Anne Arundel County was passed, paving the way for David Cordish to construct his billion-dollar-cash-cow at Arundel Mills Mall.  It was “game over” when the results were published and verified.

But David Cordish and the voters in Anne Arundel County didn’t give horse racing its terminal disease.  They just pulled the plug.

The Maryland Jockey Club will put forth their best effort now to try and make some sense out of how to go on, but their plan has far more hope than foundation.  They say they’ll sell off the property at the Bowie Training Center and part of the land at Laurel Park and that money…or those monies — once it’s divided up and everyone who is owed their piece gets it — will somehow be drilled back into the industry in an effort to revitalize it.  The racing industry itself gets 9% of all state-wide slots revenue right off the top, so there’s an additional infusion of cash that can help keep the horses running and maintain some consistent level of employment with the breeders, trainers and racing employees.

But that’s not going to do it.

Sorry, it’s just not.

Rather than do what the two nitwits who ran for Governor spent the last three months doing — pointing fingers at what the other one did wrong for the last XXXX years — I’ll just wrap it up with a brief overview of the recent shenanigans and then move forward to a proactive approach to racing in Maryland.

In the weirdest of weird ways, the state of Maryland deserves this wreckage.

Painfully, and those without jobs today because of the slots issue will disagree and that’s understandable, having the horse industry turn into a fuster-cluck is exactly what Martin O’Malley and the rest of the stuffed suits deserve.

Everyone has blood on their hands.


The folks in the industry who have moved their facilties, efforts and employees to neighboring West Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania are probably the only ones