A management-study analysis of the Maryland Racing Commission concludes there is laxity in some areas of commission responsibility and recommends costly improvements that should increase public confidence in racing.
The 151-page report issued yesterday particularly cites weakness in the control of and testing for medication used on thoroughbred and harness-racing horses in the state.
"Enforcement is weak compared to other states," said Ray Dearborn, whose Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning conducted the audit for Acting Gov. Blair Lee III.
The report dwells on administrative and licensing aspects of the racing commission and does not get into specific cases, which, according to Dearborn, followed the original intent of the study.
It also was recommended that the governor request the General Assembly to create a task force to study, revise and restructure the laws of the commisssion and prepare recommendations for legislative consideration in 1980.
This is necessary, the report concluded, because the current statute is ambiguous, inconsistent and contains some ommissions.
The report also said that the rules and regulations for both thoroughbred and harness racing should be systematically reviewed, revised and updated. It found some rules outdated.
The most expensive recommendation would be the creation of full-time chairmen of the commission's thoroughbred and harness boards. The current chairmen are part-time appointees who are paid $4,000 annually. The report suggests a study of the feasibility of such a move.
The report said that some tracks are lax in reporting ownership and changes in ownership. It suggests that racetrack owners disclose full interests in racing-industry business and that a bank agent be appointed as a stock transfer agent, as is the case with big corporations and private business.
The racing commission also should review all contracts between track managements and suppliers in which th public has an interest, it was recommended. At present, according to the report, this happens in only one out of 13 contracts.
Substantial and effective regulation of racing has been achieved at modest cost," the report concluded. "In our judgement, a more vigilant commitment by the racing commission to improve regulatory practices and administrative management is essential, however, if the public confidence in racing is to increase."
The report, however, said that increased costs, which it did not estimate, could be offset by increased revenues at the track should public confidence and the quality of racing increase.
The report urged immediate hiring of an assistant executive secretary for James Callahan and recommended moving commission offices into the some Baltimore complex as the Secretary of Licensing and Regulation in order to benefit from that office's facilities and the expertise of its personnel.
The medication issue appears the most controversial in the report, as it is in the industry. The report cites that reporting, recording and enforcement procedures in the use of Butazolidin and Lasix is lax.
The report also says that some horses sent to the detention barn for collection of postrace urine samples leave without one, or without a blood test being taken. It also cites improvements in security measures to eliminate possible collusion with persons who collect the specimens and with people who have keys to unlock the box in which they are transported to the testing lab.
It suggests studying the possibility of using Maryland State Police lab facilities.
In comparing Maryland medication procedures and polices with those in three other major horseracing states - California, New York and New Jersey - the auditors found that Bute is not allowed in either New York or New Jersey and is closely controlled in California.
"In summary," the report concluded, "Maryland's medication rules are consistently more liberal . . . The other states, despite their more stringent rules, are reportedly able to attract enough good horses to conduct quality racing."
The report recommends that the commission organize a comprehensive study on medication, including reports by representatives from all segments of the industry. Bob Banning thoroughbred board chairman, recently organized such an effort for the thoroughbreds.
The report also suggested a more inclusive postrace drug testing program, including tests on all beaten favorites.