A controversy over racing on Christmas Eve this year developed at the offices of the Maryland State Racing Commission yesterday in Baltimore when Fendall Claggett, firebrank representative of the Horsemen's Association, became so outraged with the commissioners that he was asked to leave by chairman Robert W. Manning. The meeting was called to allot racing dates to the various tracks for 1978.
Claggett said after the expulsion: "Those commissioners have no idea of our problems and they care less. We and the track unions were never consulted on this matter of racing on Christmas Eve . . . they are the yes men of the management in seeing to it that they get what they want - the almighty buck."
Before he was ousted, Claggett became so upset that he rose out of turn and blustered. "We, the horsemen, are diabolically (sic) opposed to racing on Christmas Eve."
The dates, as allotted by the commission, are essentially the same as in 1977. Laurel completes its current meet Jan. 2. Bowie follows with 64 days, Jan. 3 through March 17. Pimlico, with 60 days, opens March 18 and runs through May 27. Pimlico also is expected to host the summer meeting this year from May 29 through July 22, but the commission failed to post the announcement 15 days before the transfer of dates as required by law. That formality will be accomplished Nov. 9
The combined Hagerstown and Marlboro meeting of 35 days will run at Bowie again from Sept. 11 through Oct. 20. Laurel then closes out 1978 with a 59-day meeting ending Dec. 30.