The situation involving the recording of workouts remains unsettled at Maryland tracks, although Laurel Race Course vice president Tim Capps said a solution should come shortly.
"I know I've been talking around it awhile," said Capps. "We still haven't come to anything concrete, but we've had brief conversations with the two trade papers [Daily Racing Form and The Racing Times] and plan to meet with them soon."
Being armed with accurate and complete workouts is a need for horseplayers that cannot be underrated. At Maryland's three major tracks, clockers work for The Form, and The Times will soon begin offering workouts. Gaps and contradictions are sure to surface among the rival clockers' recordings, so a best-case scenario is for the tracks to bear part of the considerable costs by paying employees to help monitor different aspects of recording.
That's a given, said Capps, but all the details remain. "Every circuit has its nuances," he said.
California has long had a cooperative agreement between the tracks and racing publications, one that serves as the model for all tracks. New York pays gap attendants, who identify horses and inform the clockers about their work plans. At Churchill Downs, a cost-sharing agreement was worked out recently between the track and the two papers, although it was done expressly to eliminate problems during the Breeders' Cup, and other Kentucky tracks have not followed suit.
Maryland would do well to settle on something -- and soon. Few things are more aggravating for fans than coming to the track in the afternoon and encountering the mystery that morning workouts have come to represent.
You think Maryland racing is in a slump? (The handle is down 6 percent at the current Laurel meet.) Just wait for this winter, when Garden State Park and Philadelphia Park -- for the second straight year -- will go head-to-head from January through May.
The Delaware Valley neighbors posted horrendous numbers when running simultaneous meetings last year. Representatives for both tracks could not come to an agreement on dates, so the battle will resume on Jan. 2.
"It's lunacy," said Dick Jerardi, who covers the tracks for the Philadelphia Daily News and The Racing Times. "Absolute insanity. Avoiding the conflicting dates made too much sense."
Kent Desormeaux, the former Maryland riding star, continues his rise to stardom in Southern California. Desormeaux, 21, easily won his second straight riding title at the Oak Tree-at-Santa Anita meeting that recently ended.
Bertrando, a clear second behind Arazi in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, is recovering from a flesh wound in his left front foot. The colt apparently incurred the injury at the start of the race and will be out of training for about three more weeks before pointing for the 1992 classics.
Given that he won his first three starts before finishing second to the French wunderkind, Bertrando was clearly the top 2-year-old performer of the year in America.
A photocopied poem hangs in the Laurel press box as a kind of tease to frustrated handicappers. It was written by 8-year-old Desire Phelps of Parkville, whose message comes through, even with misspellings. The girl's mother, Pat Steffey, serves as a publicity assistant at the track.
The poem, entitled "Horses" reads:
My horse won
The crowd will birst
If he comes first
Sometimes I think about it
And I will admit
That I have a kit
To see witch horse
Is going to win.