- Lou Raffetto, President and Chief Operating Officer of the MJC
“Unfortunately, we have no choice. We have limited purse monies available, are facing increasing competition from growing slot-fueled purses in West Virginia and Delaware, and are about to face an entirely new wave of competition this year when Pennsylvania’s racetracks begin their slot operations. Under these circumstances, we must do everything we can to keep our average daily overnight purses for our local horsemen as high as possible and in order to do so must reallocate the dollars that would otherwise have been used to fund the purse for the Pimlico Special. Our first priority must be our local horsemen who support our program on a daily basis throughout the year.”
Today its the Pimlico Special, tomorrow it will be Preakness. It is only a matter of time until Magna Entertainment decides to moved the middle jewel of the triple crown to Gulfstream or another Magna venue. I have been screaming "The sky is falling" on Maryland racing, and nobody is listening. Hopefully the loss of this great race will open up some eyes to the major problems with the Maryland industry. Maryland can no longer compete with the slot enhanced purses of our neighboring states. This story will get one paragraph in tomorrows paper, and maybe ten seconds on tonights news. It will be out of the news cycle by noon tomorrow, and everyone will forget. The response will be "Oh well, we still have the Preakness."
The people of Maryland and the legislature do not understand that the Preakness Stakes can be moved. Every year, The Preakness grows in economic impact dollars to the city and state. Everyone takes it for granted that The week long Preakness celebration (including the Pimlico Special, and Black Eyed Susan) is a permanent fixture. They also thought that the Colts would never move. They were wrong in 1983, and they are wrong today.
In my opinion, today was the tipping point. I think it may be too late to save the Maryland horse industry. It has been neglected for too long, and our neighbors are offer a much, much better product.