The 10-day Timonium meet, which starts at the state fairgrounds tomorrow, could be a pivotal one for Maryland's only half-mile thoroughbred track.
Howard M. "Max" Mosner Jr., general manager of the Maryland State Fair, said yesterday that if there are not sufficient entries to fill the race cards each day, then this might be Timonium's last racing hurrah.
"If we can't fill the races, then they [horsemen] are sending us a message," Mosner said. "It means that this meet will be the beginning of the end of racing at Timonium."
Mosner's comments came after he recapped Timonium's abysmal 1990 meet. Just about everything that could go wrong last year did.
Opening day was canceled because of unsafe track conditions. Then when the track opened, a number of horses broke down. The track was termed dangerous, prompting horsemen to avoid the entry box. On the last two days of the meet, there were only enough horses to fill eight race cards instead of the scheduled 10 and 11 race programs.
"But the track [surface] has been redone," racing secretary Georgeanne Hale said. "We have had a top track superintendent inspect it, and he said it's fine. So, I don't anticipate any problems [filling races]."
Mosner hopes for a $7 million handle for the 10 days and said officials at Laurel and Pimlico "have been extremely supportive. Frankly," he added, "I think they are glad for the 10-day break."
For the first time, Timonium will take simulcast action on a number of out-of-state races. This weekend there will be three stakes simulcast from Saratoga.
Next weekend Timonium will simulcast the Beverly D. Handicap, xTC the Arlington Million and the Secretariat Stakes, all run on consecutive days at Arlington Park.
Despite last year's problems, Mosner said the State Fair, which runs concurrently with the meet, couldn't be healthier. "We have broken attendance records for the last two years," he said.
Post time is 1 p.m. There are nine races each day, except on the two Saturday cards and Labor Day when there are 10 races.