Over First Hurdle as Committee Passes Thoroughbred Bill |
By Fanen Chiahemen
Friday, Feb. 14, 2003
a group of fourth-graders from St. Pius X Regional School in
Bowie serenaded 10 senators with a song, read aloud glowing paragraphs about the thoroughbred and offered gifts of horseshoes and cookies, most
of the senators were won over.
The Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee voted 7-3
Thursday to pass a
bill designating the thoroughbred as the state horse. Only Sens. Richard F. Colburn,
R-Dorchester, Andrew P. Harris, R-Baltimore and Harford, and Janet Greenip,
R-Anne Arundel, voted against the measure.
The bill will now
return to the full Senate, where it will be open for amendments in
Sen. Leo E. Green,
D-Prince George’s, introduced the measure last month after receiving a
letter from the class in favor of the designation. Green has said the legislation
has redeeming value, since many of the bloodlines for thoroughbreds
in this country started in Maryland.
who voted in favor of the bill said they felt that lobbying was a
good activity for the children, and some commented that “the kids
were so cute.” Even those who said they are sick of state symbols
rewarded the children following their comments.
Sen. Paul G. Pinksy, D-Prince George’s, voted in favor of the
bill, even though, he said, "I generally don’t like naming state things.
"But it makes
sense," he added. “If there’s going to be a state horse, then the
thoroughbred would be the right one.”
Sen. Gwendolyn T.
Britt, D-Prince George’s, said she saw no reason why the thoroughbred should not be recognized since “thoroughbreds make up a third of
Maryland’s horse population.”
Green said he was
touched and impressed by the children’s comments.
“I had tears in my
eyes,” he said after the hearing, as he ushered the children out.
than 30 children and about two dozen parents and supporters crammed
the committee hearing room.
Ten children read a paragraph each detailing why the thoroughbred
should be named the state horse, while parents clicked away with
horse has made a huge contribution to the history, economy and quality
of life of Maryland,” one fourth-grader said.
The children told
senators how the thoroughbred has historic significance for
Prince George’s County and for Maryland. Bowie is the home of Belair Estate, the colonial plantation of former Gov. Samuel Ogle, an
early importer of the thoroughbred horse to the United States.
that Belair Stable was one of the finest racing stables in the country
during the mid-1900s. The stable produced Triple Crown-winning horses
Gallant Fox and Omaha. Belair was the oldest continually operating
horse farm in the country before it was closed in 1957.
Maryland hosts the annual Preakness Stakes, a one-and-a-half-mile race
for 3-year-old thoroughbreds. Maryland Gov. Oden Bowie organized the
first running of the Preakness Stakes in 1873 at Pimlico Race Course
Edward C. Papenfuse and two representatives from the Maryland Horse
Breeders Association were among other supporters of the bill. No one
opposed to it during the hearing.
The senators who
opposed the bill said they felt that the designation of state symbols
was getting out of hand. Greenip said:
“I loved the kids, I think they did a great job. But there are already
so many state symbols.”
Harris said he enjoyed the children’s
performance, but “there are just far more important things to
spend time on. Besides, there are other horses behind the
thoroughbred, and we would be denying those other horses the
Maryland's state symbols include
a fossil shell, a state dinosaur and an insect. Some of the nearly
two dozen symbols were proposed by
Last year, four state symbol bills were shot down. But
Democratic Delegate William A. Bronrott’s bill to make walking the
state exercise was reintroduced this year.
2003 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
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