BALTIMORE, AUG. 12 -- The International Arabian Horse Association was denied permission to race Arabian horses at the upcoming Laurel meeting, but did manage to get its foot in the door on the matter today.
Martin Jacobs, the attorney representing Laurel, asked that the racing of Arabians be conducted on a trial basis from Oct. 18 through Dec. 31, which represents approximately 30 races for horses of Arabian origin. He asked that they run as the 11th race on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during that period.
Commission Chairman E. William Furey said, "We are bound by law to race only 10 races a day at Maryland tracks except to correct an act of God, like the races being canceled for a day because of a rainstorm. But we are going to refer this matter to the attorney general's office for an opinion and hope that a decision is forthcoming soon. Meanwhile, I must say I am impressed at the presentation made by the Arabian council in this matter."
Alec Courtelis, a Miami builder who for 20 years has spearheaded the use of Arabian horses at thoroughbred tracks, told the commission: "The Arabian is a beautiful horse with a large, youthful and faithful following, especially in this area. Delaware Park has done wonderfully with it for several years and more and more tracks are beginning to let us in."
Arabians race at 30 thoroughbred tracks and fairs nationally where parimutuel betting is conducted, usually running one race a day, Courtelis said.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association testified in opposition to Arabian racing in Maryland, saying it was concerned about having too many horses using training facilities and Arabians cutting into future purses.