Maybe it's that time of year. No one hit the Double Triple at Pimlico Race Course yesterday, and the carry-over pool could be worth as much as $400,000 tomorrow.
Last year, the Double Triple pool swelled past the $1 million mark before finally being won on April 14 -- setting a virtual precedent for its current progression. A year ago, the lure of a huge windfall whipped fans into a wagering frenzy and helped Pimlico post a record average handle (more than $1.8 million per program) for a Maryland track.
The Double Triple asks bettors to predict the 1-2-3 finishers in the third and fifth races. Fans had good aim on the first half of the gimmick yesterday: When Antarctic Star, a 5-2 shot, beat International Slew (5-1) and Little Philip (9-1), 532 tickets were alive for the fifth-race exchange.
But the odds in the fifth suggested the bet would carry over for the 15th straight day -- the exact length of the current meeting. The favorites in a full field of 12 were three 4-1 shots, and when none of them finished in the money, the pool stood at $323,492.
Since Maryland tracks instituted the Double Triple in 1985, the pool has snowballed past the current figure only four times.
The largest was in December 1988, when 30 winners shared a jackpot of more than $1.8 million. Last April, 10 winners shared more than $1.3 million. At no other time has the pool surpassed the $500,000 mark, but the current climb would top it this weekend if the bet remains unhit.
The attraction is a welcome one for Pimlico, where last year's figures have come back to haunt current business. Through the first three weeks of the meeting, handle is down about 12 percent. But as the Double Triple makes its geometric surge, the handle tends to increase accordingly, and the track could make inroads on the 1990 numbers if fans continue to flail and fail.
Yesterday's Double Triple events were somewhat rare in that they were for $5,000 claimers -- previous winners with somewhat decipherable form. The third race tomorrow is also for $5,000 company, but then the Double Triple reverts to its usual self: The fifth race tomorrow, and both halves Friday, will be contested by full fields of lower-class maidens.
NOTES: House Bill 1315, which would allow wagers from other states to be commingled with wagers on races at Maryland tracks, passed the Maryland state Senate by a 46-0 vote yesterday. The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer and become law July 1. . . . Valay Maid, Maryland's top 3-year-old filly of 1990, has moved into the stable of Ben Perkins Jr. The filly's first 1991 start should come any day. . . . Roman Mist, the favorite, overtook Raised Capital in mid-stretch to win the $19,000 feature at Pimlico yesterday. Roman Mist was the second winner of the card for trainer Ricky Yourman, who was celebrating his 30th birthday. . . . Edgar Prado has assumed the lead in the jockeys' standings on the strength of five winners Monday. Prado leads Joe Rocco by a 21-18 count. Rocco took off yesterday's program after Faigie's Prospects, his mount in the second race, reared up and struck him in the face. Rocco was driven to Sinai Hospital, where X-rays were negative. . . . Jockey Paul Nicol, who holds the Maryland record for most winners in a day (seven), rode Miss Tut in the fifth race yesterday, but that should be his last mount in Maryland for a while: He is leaving for Finger Lakes in western New York. . . . Pimlico/Laurel will simulcast two Triple Crown preps Saturday: The Santa Anita Derby and Gotham Stakes. . . . Apprentice Clinton Potts starts a seven-day suspension today. The penalty stems from a riding infraction in the third race Saturday. . . . Dispersal has been retired to Live Oak Stud in Florida because of an ankle injury, trainer Bud Delp revealed recently. The 5-year-old was one of the top handicap runners in the nation last year.