De Francis hopeful on twilight racing Racetrack owner 'very pleased' by Senate panel's OK of bill

March 20, 1991|By Bill Free

Joe De Francis wouldn't predict yesterday the final passage of a bill allowing a year of experimental twilight racing for the state's thoroughbred tracks, but the owner of Pimlico and Laurel talked like a man who expected to see twilight racing in July at Laurel.

"I don't predict the outcome of horse races or House and Senate votes," De Francis said. "But I'm very pleased that it was approved so overwhelmingly [by the Senate Finance Committee, which voted 9-2 Monday to recommend passage of bill that allows twilight racing for one year] by the committee. I hope that foretells ultimate success in the House and Senate."

The bill would permit Pimlico and Laurel to extend their race cards to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, when there is no harness racing, and to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

It still requires the approval of the full Senate and, if approved by the House Ways and Means Committee, the full House.

De Francis said the one-year trial for twilight racing would "tell us what to do on a long-term basis."

"I hope it would increase our business by 20 percent, like it has some other tracks such as Churchill Downs," he said. "I know the potential is quite different at a track like Churchill Downs. But we won't know what it will do here until we try."

De Francis said twilight racing was not successful at Monmouth Park.

The harness industry originally opposed the bill because night racing is traditionally allocated to the trotters, but the bill was amended to remove conflicts.

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Charles Fenwick III, a student at Gilman School, rode two more winners yesterday to raise his total to five in the first five days of the Pimlico meeting.

Fenwick also had two third-place finishes yesterday.

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Lorraine Quinichett's Sleepytown, a 4-year-old colt who is a half-brother to Tong Po, winner of the Federico Tesio Stakes, won the 10th race yesterday at Pimlico. Both colts are out of the Quinichett broodmare Raclette.

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