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Senators Eye Removing Tracks From Funding Bill

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Senate budget leaders are considering cutting two race tracks out of a bill crafted by Gov. Martin O'Malley to subsidize horse racing in Maryland.

Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman Ed Kasemeyer said Thursday he was looking at removing Rosecroft Raceway and Ocean Downs from a bill that would allow race track owners use state slot machine earnings to cover their operating costs.

The bill is a product of a compromise O'Malley worked out with the owners of Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park to help them race horses 146 days this year. The Maryland Jockey Club, which owns both tracks, lost $20 million last year.

Penn National Gaming -- which had sought a license to put slots at Laurel -- recently bought Rosecroft.

The House approved the measure last month, but Kasemeyer's panel has yet to take it up.

The House version would allow the Jockey Club -- which is owned jointly by Penn National and MI Developments -- to take up to $6 million of slots proceeds slated for capital improvements and use it to pay for day-to-day operations. It would also allow Rosecroft and Ocean Downs borrow $3 million each to cover costs.

"We want to use our money wisely and put it where has the best results" Kasemeyer said.

Sen. Doug Peters, D-Prince George's, met with Kasemeyer and Sen. Ed DeGrange, D-Anne Arundel, earlier this week to discuss removing the two tracks from the bill.

"I'm supporting the bill in its original form, which includes Rosecroft, it was a commitment made by the governor to Prince George's County," Peters said.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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