10/30/2001 12:00AM

Maryland sets pact deadline


The Maryland Racing Commission has told Thoroughbred and harness interests in the state to come to agreement on simulcasting rights by Nov. 12 after harness tracks asked to be released from an existing contract.

Last year, Thoroughbred and harness interests agreed to split all simulcasting money in the state 80-20, with the larger share going to Thoroughbreds. Harness interests are now complaining that the revenue-sharing plan has had a negative impact on harness tracks, and they asked out of the agreement at a commission meeting on Monday.

Instead, Tom Chukas, the chief executive officer of Rosecroft Raceway, asked the commission to allow the harness track to negotiate their own agreements for simulcasting contracts independently of the Maryland Jockey Club, which currently conducts simulcasting negotiations.

The request was opposed by Joe De Francis, the chairman of the Maryland Jockey Club, who said that the MJC's two tracks, Pimlico and Laurel Park, would lose $7 million a year if the revenue-sharing plan was not in place.

Racing interests in the state are hoping to iron out a plan in order to satisfy a request by state legislators that the industry put its problems behind it in order to be considered for a state purse subsidy in 2002. A $10 million subsidy the industry had received in previous years was canceled this year when legislators complained about infighting.