12/22/2005 12:00AM

Maryland impasse remains


The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association rejected the latest racing dates proposal from Magna Entertainment Corp. on Wednesday, leaving a deal on 2006 dates unresolved.

Magna, which through majority ownership of the Maryland Jockey Club owns Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, offered a plan featuring 180 days of live racing as well as year-round stabling. In return, Magna was also seeking substantial contributions from horsemen to help cover operating costs.

The horsemen's group's president, Richard Hoffberger, said Wednesday night that his board had accepted the 180-day idea, but wanted to race during the summer months, when the Maryland Jockey Club would rather be closed because of competition from operations in surrounding states.

Lou Raffetto, the jockey club's chief operating officer, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The horsemen's group agreed to help cover operating costs, but rejected Magna's proposal to contribute 5.3 percent of revenue from live racing and simulcasting in 2006.

The board of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, however, accepted Magna's proposal. The breeders have not contributed to the operating costs of the tracks since an agreement to pay 6 percent expired in 2004.