LAUREL -- Its recent Double Triple experiment a failure, Maryland's thoroughbred tracks may soon turn to a daily Pick-7 as its grandest exotic wager.
"I want to see a couple of things happen first," Jim Mango, vice president of Laurel and Pimlico race courses, said yesterday. "I want to see if the [Thoroughbred Racing Association] is ready to go with its national Pick-7 by, say, January. Then, if it looks like we are going to have that bet, it would only seem logical to begin offering our own Pick-7."
Laurel offered a $100,000 guarantee -- with a $5 minimum wager -- on its Double Triple beginning Oct. 12. But the jackpot built slowly, and management dropped the experiment after the pool was emptied Monday. Now, the $3 minimum is back, but there is no $100,000 guarantee.
Mango will attend a TRA symposium in Arizona in early December, then determine which direction Laurel and Pimlico will take in regard to the bonanza-type wagers with carry-over pools that are so popular at racetracks in Maryland and throughout the country. The Double Triple, which Mango insisted has been "very popular" since it became a mainstay at Laurel/Pimlico in 1986, could be discarded in favor of a national Pick-7 and/or a local Pick-7.
"The TRA's proposal is to have seven races a day [simulcast] with a co-mingled pool," he said. "If it happens, the races will be run quickly, and there wouldn't have be other wagering on them. It would be bam-bam-bam . . . run those races from different tracks in the East, Midwest and West about five minutes apart, have a separate Pick-7 on them, then run our own program around it. There will be extensive discussion about us getting involved. This is the wave of the future, and I'd say it's very close to happening."
A carry-over pool for a Pick-6 at Maryland tracks would not normally build to the extent that management wants, especially with short fields; it would be too easily won before the pool enlarges. A Pick-8 would tend to carry over even greater than a Pick-7, but existing Maryland law allows only a Pick-6 or Pick-7. A daily Pick-7 on a Laurel or Pimlico program would require a $3 minimum, Mango said.
The Double Triple requires a bettor to pick the 1-2-3 finishers in 2 races; a Pick-7 requires a bettor to pick the winners of 7 races.
"I can't really say the latest experiment with the Double Triple was a failure," said Mango. "I've been studying this kind of thing daily for the last 10 years. Its downfall was a negative public perception about taking the bet away from the small bettor and giving it to big bettors.
"The basic problem with the Pick-7 and some of the other exotic wagers has been that technology hasn't caught up yet with what we've wanted to do. The Breeders' Cup [which offered a national, co-mingled Pick-7 pool to which Laurel/Pimlico bettors contributed nearly $300,000] may have showed that the time is right for us to bring it in. We'll get the equipment necessary to make it work if that's the way we determine to go."
NOTES: Trainer Barclay Tagg did not enter Miss Josh in the Chrysanthemum Handicap at Laurel tomorrow. A field of 14 fillies and mares will go. Miss Josh may wait for the Matriarch Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 10. . . . Sunday's Laurel feature is the Devil's Bag Stakes for 2-year-olds. . . . Through 28 racing days, the combined Laurel/Pimlico handle is down slightly over 5 percent from corresponding 1990 dates. . . . Edgar Prado holds a 32-30 lead in the Laurel jockey standings over percentage leader Rick Wilson (.250). . . . Journeyman jockey Marco Castaneda, seventh in the standings, has left Maryland for Bay Meadows in Northern California. . . . Jolie's Halo, sixth in the Mile as Maryland's lone Breeders' Cup representative, is the likely favorite in the Paterson Handicap at the Meadowlands tonight.