The rules of Maryland racing caught up with technology yesterday on a couple of points that have had racing commissioner Jack Mosner seething for years.
At the October meeting of the nine-member Maryland Racing Commission, the process of rules changing began so that there should be less confusion because of late scratches and jockey changes.
It involves stable entries -- that is, two horses in the same race representing one trainer. Traditionally, such entries receive special consideration because the horse or jockeys that compete might not be decided until 45 minutes before post time.
But after another public meeting in November and a waiting period, the rule will change -- the status of all stable entries will be decided before racing cards begin. Ken Schertle, executive director of the commission, said the changes could be in place by January.
A horseplayer will have to pay attention to public-address announcements, but the information will be available.
"This ought to eliminate some captives of tradition," Mosner said. "I'm only thinking of the guy in the seats [a horseplayer who pays his way into the track and bets].
"I know it's very confusing not to know until late in the day which part of an entry is going to run or which jockey is going to ride which horse. I'm thinking especially about the Pick 3 races. A guy makes a bet in that pool not even knowing who's going to be in a later race."
So, after hearing from spokesmen for horsemen and jockeys who favored helping the public, the commissioners started the rule changing.
Horses to be scratched from a stable entry must be scratched an hour before the first race, when betting on all races begins. That's also when jockeys must be named on all horses, even those that are part of an entry.
Advance betting has been permitted for several years, using computer systems developed by the American Totalisator Co.
All racing dates for 1991 were to be assigned at yesterday's meeting, but the management of Laurel and Pimlico race courses chose to wait until the November meeting to determine the best way to divide the late summer/fall dates. The management team wants to determine how the current Laurel meeting attracts business.
Timonium was assigned an Aug. 24-Sept. 2 meeting next year, similar to this year's dates. The Fair Hill steeplechase plant was assigned three dates -- May 27, Sept. 28 and Oct. 19.
Rosecroft Raceway is to conduct 218 nights of harness racing between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, and the 74-night Delmarva Downs harness meeting will be held between May 1 and Sept. 30.
Marlboro is to get two dates in the fall, but they will not be assigned until after the Laurel/Pimlico dates are set.