LAUREL -- The first simulcast from a foreign country to a Maryland racetrack went off reasonably well yesterday, with a minimum of glitches and a surprisingly high mutuel handle.
The mutuel machines at Laurel Race Course and the intertrack facility at Pimlico Race Course were opened 1 1/2 hours early to take bets on the $1.6 million Ciga Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe from the Longchamp track in Paris.
It's called the "Arc" in the United States.
With the early post time and unfamiliar horses, the potential for mutuel play was difficult to assess. But when $74,007 went through the windows by post time, Jim Mango, Laurel general manager, said he was ecstatic. "When they brought in some Irish races this summer at Monmouth Park, they only handled something like $140,000 for 12 races," he said. "So we're very happy with this."
Monmouth Park officials, however, had experienced a nightmare for track officials. The Daily Racing Form had not printed precise past performances for the Irish races but had published a synopsis of each horse's record. American horseplayers demand lots of statistics.
When the $600,000 Turf Classic was simulcast from Belmont Park later in the afternoon with several well-known American horses in the lineup, it attracted $119,198 through the windows in Maryland.
The Turf Classic was won by an English invader, Cacoethes.
Because the program numbers at the Maryland tracks didn't correspond with the saddlecloth numbers at Longchamp, chief steward Clinton Pitts Jr. had to watch the television, talk by phone with an official in the Longchamp press box -- and translate.
"I could tell that Saumarez was the winner and that he was No. 10 on our TV screen," Pitts said. "But after that, I had to listen to the guy in France."
Epervier Bleu, Snurge and In The Wings finished second, third and fourth.
Saumarez paid $32.80 to win at Laurel and Pimlico. Salsabil, the favorite both at Longchamp and in Maryland, finished 10th.
Laurel occasionally has attracted the Arc winner to its big International race, now known as the Budweiser International, which this year is Oct. 21.
But Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall, who owns yesterday's winner in partnership with Kings star Wayne Gretzky, said the colt would run next in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf at Belmont Park on Oct. 27.
* Batshoof yesterday became the second Budweiser International candidate to arrive in Maryland.
Ten Keys is at the Bowie training center being pointed for the $750,000 race.
Batshoof, owned by Sheik Maktoum al Maktoum, has been racing in England. He joined trainer Neil Drysdale's stable at Laurel.
"We don't know much about him," said Drysdale. "We'll get the tapes from England next week and watch them."
* My Frenchman won the $50,000 Explorer Handicap at Laurel yesterday, the 12th race on a card of 14, as a final prep for the $250,000 Laurel Dash on International Day.
"He's eligible," said trainer Jimmy Murphy. "I'll pre-enter him on Tuesday."