06/17/2002 11:00PM

Flynn out in Maryland, already


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Less than five months after hiring former New York Thoroughbred Breeders official Michael Flynn as its executive vice-president, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association has dismissed him.

The group announced the change in a brief statement Tuesday, saying that Flynn's resignation was effective on June 11.

The Maryland breeding industry is confronting several serious issues, including the probable sale of Maryland Jockey Club racetracks to Frank Stronach's Magna Entertainment, a Thoroughbred industry push for slot machines at racetracks, and stagnant purses that struggle to compete with slots-fueled purses in neighboring states. In an atmosphere of frustration, internal politics appears to have played a role in Flynn's departure.

Flynn, who currently is back in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., said the board asked for his resignation last week but gave him no specific reasons for its request.

"I just got caught in a political firestorm," said Flynn, who left his longtime position as executive director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders to take the Maryland job in mid-February.

"That job is very political now," the association president Michael Pons said Tuesday. "That position for years was just to be editor of the magazine [The Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred] and help coordinate the Maryland Million, but now you are more of a lobbyist representing the industry to the legislature, governor, and the whole political world, much more even than it was a few years ago.

"Michael and certain members of the board had differences of opinion," Pons added. "I didn't think I could bring the parties together, and I thought the situation was going to deteriorate before it got better."