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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Ocean Downs Quandry

To say things never go easy in Maryland standardbred circles is certainly an understatement. Not only is the standardbred industry dealing with the bankruptcy and potentially the permanent closing of Rosecroft Raceway, things are not going well at the Ocean Downs either; a track which is in the process of building a slot parlor.

The slot parlor at Ocean Downs was due to open this Memorial Day. However, due to delays as a result of asbestos and other issues out of the control of everyone, the soonest slot machines will be operating is in November. In the meanwhile, being in the middle of construction, the physical plant does not provide the ability to host a race meet. To further confuse the issue, there appears to be a requirement that at least one race must be held at Ocean Downs by the end of August in order for the zoning exemption permitting the racino to be built expires. What to do?

One option would be to have an “Ocean Downs at Rosecroft Raceway” meet but apparently this has been rejected by Ocean Downs management. If Ocean Downs had their way, they rather cancel the meet and double the purses for next year but this proposal is not meeting favor with horsemen.

Perhaps the best thing to do is use the Freehold Raceway solution. Back in May of 1984, the grandstand at Freehold Raceway was gutted by a fire. Within a couple of months, the building was taken down and management brought in a couple of bubbles where fans could wager from. A temporary judges and track announcer booth was put up (trailers) and Freehold conducted their race meets in this fashion until the new building was completed. If this is not feasible for Ocean Downs, why not just run a studio meet, with wagering taking place only through simulcast and OTB locations?  This would appear on the surface to meet everyone's needs.

If this doesn't work, so be it. The point is there is a solution out there which will address everyone’s concerns. The track needs to run a race meet.  The horsemen want to race in Maryland.  All it requires is for everyone to leave their ego at the door and the parties will be able to come up with a solution agreeable to all.

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