Maryland Senate committee unanimously confirmed yesterday the appointment of Robert W. Banning as chairman of the Maryland Thoroughbred Racing Commission, overruling the objections of several horse breeders who claimed Banning didn't have any background in racing matters.
The action of the Executive Nominations Committee came one week after a rancorous haering during which one breeder, Fendall M. Claggett, charged that Banning "has come into this position completely unknowledgable about our problems, which are grave."
Others who opposed the nomination of Banning - the owner of a car dealership in Prince George's County and a former member of the house of Delegates - focused their comments on the current squables within the industry, including the question of how much money should go into the purses at Maryland's tracks, where that money should came from and how it should be paid out.
Banning agreed last week that, "There is no way that racing can continue to thrive in Maryland unless someone in the legislature takes a close look at purse structures, which are completely uncompetitive at this time."
Some of the criticism had focused on how long it had taken the industry to get legislation to change the purse structures introduced in the General Assembly this year.