Capps has ideas to promote sport around the state


April 14, 1991|By Marty McGee

When Tim Capps was hired late last year at Pimlico an Laurel race courses, he brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to his position of vice president for racing and public relations.

Among other positions of influence, Capps, 45, was editor of now-defunct Thoroughbred Record magazine, which was long regarded as an excellent forum by people seriously involved in the industry.

In a recent interview, Capps expressed his views on a number of issues concerning Maryland racing. He said:

* "There is a concern about horse population. Almost everyone around the country is telling me the same thing. We are going to be a lot more structured in pursuing horses and horsemen. We have to look for people who will come in here and stay. We have to sell our purse schedule, the stability factor of staying in one place, the year-round stakes program, the availability of different tracks to train on and of stalls, but also to convince people that this is just a good place to live and race. What's happening now is not a function of what people here have done or are doing, but there's been a basic change in the attractiveness of being a horse owner."

* "Racing is all about marketing. Everything you do, in a sense, is marketing, whether it's facilities, or extending the betting opportunity to off-track or inter-track or telephone. There's one big issue facing us, being in this high-growth area, and that's a question of how to extend the marketplace."

* "This is the same game as when Maryland figures were surging. There are factors external to Maryland racing that are causing this (betting handle at the current Pimlico meeting is down 13 percent)."

* "The workout system has not been given consistent attention and it's pretty major. From us, it means a significant commitment of dollars [in tandem with Equibase]. There are clocking devices that will improve not only the quality [of timing workouts], but make information easier to gather, and that's not too long in coming, maybe a matter of months."

* "The Racing Form has done a good service to the industry up to now. But the competition has to be healthy for everybody, whether it's chart-calling or workouts or whatever."

* "There are a lot of questions concerning keeping three tracks open. You'd really have to devise a plan or concept of operation that says 'What makes the most sense?' It's something that's going on right now. Every time you think you've got an answer, there's a complication to it."

* Joe De Francis, Pimlico/Laurel president, said Friday that a contract with WBAL Radio is likely to be signed early this week. The agreement will significantly increase radio coverage of local racing events.

* Jockey Andrea Seefeldt will be traveling to Japan for three weeks in September to ride in a series of races.

Seefeldt and Vicky Aragon will represent the United States in races against females from several European countries and Japan. The races will be held at what Seefeldt described as "non-recognized tracks," or tracks that are not part of Japan's major-league circuit.

Last year, Julie Krone became the first female to ride at a major Japanese track. The series in which Seefeldt will participate is an annual event.

"I hear the hardest part is getting instructions," Seefeldt said. "The trainer gives an interpreter the instructions, but the interpreter isn't familiar with racing. So the instructions can get messed up."

* Antonio Sciuto, a self-described racing fanatic from Baltimore, has compiled a collection of charts and results with the theme of "Hunches Come In Bunches (Sometimes)."

Sciuto has noted races throughout the East where horses with similar names -- or other sources for hunches -- would have paid off nicely for a bettor if only the hunch had been followed.

The collection shows a Daily Double at Laurel in 1989 that paid $100.40 -- Heart Attack and A Doctor's Touch. Then there was an Exacta at Penn National in 1988, with Sure Stick winning and Gretzy finishing second.

Sciuto has other examples of successful hunches: Concert Tour and Well Directed; Quick Salute and General Moylan; Iceycindy and Skating Lady; and, Wild Cataract and Zero Visibility.

* In the ongoing game of jockey agents' musical chairs, these recent changes: Gordon Becraft is booking mounts for Tim Peterson, Bobby Suggs has Jerry Brocklebank, and John Faltynski is working for Clinton Potts.

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