Re: SB 1116, Horse Racing - Fair Hill - Arabian Breed Racing Authorization
Dear Senator Middleton,
The Maryland Horse Council (MHC) is a membership-based, umbrella trade association of the entire horse industry in Maryland. Our membership includes the various associations that represent the 35 different breeds and over 40 disciplines currently found in Maryland, as well as horse farms and stables; horse-related businesses, charities and foundations; and individual horse owners - representing all facets of the Maryland equestrian community, from the owners of race horses to the owners of trail horses or just beloved retired companion horses. As such, we represent over 30,000 Marylanders.
Maryland has a long history of horse racing, dating back to the first recorded formal race in Colonial Maryland, near the South River in May of 1743. No doubt, informal races were occurring even before that. Although many people think first of Thoroughbreds when they think of horse racing, Maryland’s modern racing scene is more diverse, including Standardbreds (Trotters and Pacers), and on a more limited basis Arabian racing - at Laurel Park in the 1980s and as recently as four years ago as part of the Preakness card, in a Grade 1 Arabian race sponsored by UAE racing interests. The most important trade magazine for U.S. Arabian horse racing, Arabian Finish Line Magazine, is published in Frederick, MD and its editor/publisher Stephanie Corum lives in Mt. Airy.
The Arabian breed itself has a long and strong history in Maryland. Some of the major national and international Arabian breeding farms have been located here such as the Al Marah Farm (Bazy Tankersley) in Montgomery County and the Imperial Egyptian Stud (Barbara Griffith) in Baltimore County. One of the major Arabian Racing stables, owned by Sheik Taknoon of Abu Dhabi, is headquartered at Rigbie Farm in Darlington, MD (Harford Co.) and managed by Marylander Sharon Clark. They have bred their U.S. Arabian runners in Harford county for 20 years and have produced six U.S. Arabian Horses of the Year and numerous other divisional champions. (The Sheik's father, Sheik Zayed, donated $250 million to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for the Sheik Zayed Tower (cardiac center)--the largest gift ever received by the hospital.)