The new owners of Rosecroft Raceway have been spending big bucks on a television ad campaign targeted to adult fans in the Washington area.
It is probably the most creative use of television advertising by a local track since Frank De Francis borrowed a few ideas from Lee Iacocca. De Francis walked about Laurel in a TV commercial during the 1980s promising "the dawn of a new day."
Rosecroft has run 142 10-second spots during the Winter Olympics and other highly rated shows featuring a horse and driver draped under a huge cloth.
It's essentially the same visual that was used in print ads recently placed in Baltimore and Washington newspapers.
"Come out and see the changes being unveiled at the new Rosecroft" is the theme of the commercial.
Columbia-based Fast and Associates Inc., located near the Dobbin Center, has the creative minds behind the ad.
"Jared Fast, the company president, and Triston Johnson, our associate creative director, came up with the concept," said Jamie Cohen, the company's media buyer. "We bought over 700 rating points in the market, starting Jan. 26 with the Super Bowl and ending today with the Olympics."
The ad was shot in the Rosecroft paddock, using a real pacer, Bit of Paradise, and a trainer, Greg Murray, who sits in the sulky seat.
Cohen said it took three to four hours to shoot the ad, "but the horse was unusually cooperative."
Bit of Paradise is a $3,000 claimer who has earned more than $58,000 and has won three of his past five starts at Rosecroft.
Baltimore viewers might have seen the ad on some cable networks in this area.
The Washington audience was targeted, since Rosecroft is located in Oxon Hill, a few miles from the district line.
The ad seems to be helping. Rosecroft publicity director Jerry Connors said that attendance is up 10 1/2 percent at the current meet and the handle has increased 18 percent.
Stable coupling: Chrissy and Rick Jenkins have an unusual distinction.
They are probably the only married couple that works on the Laurel backstretch that has rubbed winners of the Barbara Fritchie Handicap.
Chrissy, foreman for the Katy Voss stable, rubbed the 1988 winner, Psyched, when she worked as a groom for trainer Barclay Tagg.
Her husband, Rick, a groom for the Voss outfit, currently rubs Wood So, winner last weekend of the 1992 renewal.
"Psyched was a quiet filly, meek and mild until she got on the racetrack," Chrissy said. "Wood So is different. She's on the muscle all the time, and is quite a handful."
Chrissy, from Baltimore, and Rick, originally a next-door neighbor of jockey Chris Antley in his native Elloree, S.C., met on the backstretch.
The Jenkinses celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary four days before the Barbara Fritchie, which is fast becoming their favorite race.
Let's party: Not to tread on the territory usually reserved for Sylvia Badger, but the horse racing community is breaking out of the February blahs this week and throwing a couple of big parties.
Thursday night in the Pimlico Sports Palace: African Americans in Horse Racing hosts its third annual dinner, starting at 7:30. Founder Inez Chappell expects 400 to attend, including honorees Lewis Burrell, owner of stakes filly Lite Light and father of rap star Hammer, and Hazel Dukes, president of the New York Off-Track Betting Corp.
Also being honored are Jim Ryan, president of the Ryan Foundation, which has spent several million dollars improving backstretch life, and owner-trainers Eugene O. Smith, Earl Brittingham and James Cleveland.
Friday night at Martin's West it's the 15th annual Federico Tesio Dinner-Dance, the year's biggest awards banquet in Maryland racing.
This year's achievement awards are being presented to Tommy Baker, assistant racing secretary; Willie Coleman, chief of security; valet Jack Gerkin; Brian Handleman, executive with the Harry L. Stevens catering firm; switchboard operator Bertalie Kinsley; jockey Joe Rocco and the 1991 leading Maryland apprentice, Tim Peterson.
Horses being recognized are Safely Kept, Horse of the Year; and Caveat, Maryland Sire of the Year.
Special awards are being presented to Buddy Raines (the Henry Clark Trainer Award); Henry Rosenberg, CEO of Crown Central Petroleum (special recognition); John Buren, Channel 13 sports anchor (Joe Hirsch Pursuit of Excellence Award); and Carl Icahn (Golden Horseshoe Award). Icahn donated the earnings from his champion filly, Meadow Star, to children's charities.
Watch this space: A few items that didn't make it into newspaper stories last week:
* $5,200 -- The amount in the Maryland Standardbred Breeders' Association treasury that is being emptied to pay the organization's OTB lobbyist, Bruce Bereano.
* Steve Ports -- The legislative aide for the Senate Finance Committee who is working this weekend drafting amendments to the OTB bill. There are said to be between 20 and 30 amendments.
* Richard Hales -- The English exercise rider, now a trainer, who is credited with helping turn former claimer Hooliganisim into a stakes runner. Hales was inadvertently referred to as Richard Hines.