Horse group looks at OTB amendments Coalition awaits Senate action before recommending changes

February 29, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

LAUREL -- The Maryland Horse Coalition will meet in Annapolis on Monday to hash over the amendments that the Senate Finance Committee tacked on Thursday to the industry's off-track betting bill.

But there won't be an effort to change anything, at least until the bill is passed on the Senate floor. That could come as early as Tuesday.

"This is something you've got to take one step at a time," said Joe De Francis, track operator at Laurel and Pimlico race courses. "It's like the NCAA tournament. If you lose one game, you're out."

If the OTB bill passes the Senate, it then goes to the House of Delegates, which can debate in committee and then vote on its own version of the bill. Eventually, a conference committee between the two legislative bodies could decide the final shape of the legislation.

At the heart of the matter is a graduated tax that kicks in when the yearly gross handle passes $500 million for thoroughbreds and $175 million for harness tracks. For each additional $50 million gleaned from potential OTB bets, the state would get an extra 1 percent in taxes.

Thoroughbred officials say there is too much disparity between the caps, that the thoroughbreds will reach the projected figure before the standardbreds. Without OTB, the gross handle for thoroughbred tracks is about $435 million and $111 million for the harness plants.

Ted Snell, general manager at Rosecroft and Delmarva trotting tracks, said that he felt certain a compromise eventually will be reached. "I don't see a rift developing between the two segments of the industry. Eventually, we'll have a unified package," Snell said.

* Alfred Vanderbilt had no idea the feature race at Laurel yesterday was named the Restless Native Purse.

But he was delighted that Local Problem, the last son he owns from the last crop of that deceased stallion, won the race.

"We were thinking of running him [Local Problem] next weekend in the Private Terms Stakes, but decided instead to go in this allowance race," he said.

Vanderbilt, 79, is reasserting his presence in Maryland after selling his well-known Sagamore Farm about five years ago.

He has nine of his 10 horses in training with Mary Eppler at Pimlico and keeps six broodmares at Stiles Colwill's Halcyon Farm in Lutherville. This spring Vanderbilt is breeding three mares in Maryland, two in New York and one in Kentucky.

His best runner, stakes winner Upon My Soul, is in training in Florida with Richard Violette.

When asked if he regrets selling Sagamore, which has been shut down as a thoroughbred facility by its current owner, Vanderbilt said, "No comment."

NOTES: Rick Wilson won four straight races at Laurel yesterday, including the feature on Local Problem. He rides Crystal Moment in Florida today in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, which is simulcast at Laurel as the 12th race. . . . Part of the admissions proceeds from today's card is being donated to the Morgan State Athletic Fund.

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