Simulcasts of out-of-state races are usually reserved for weekends at Maryland's thoroughbred tracks.
But starting today, with the simulcast of the Elkhorn Stakes from Keeneland Race Course, Pimlico management will be bolstering its nine-race weekday cards -- at least for the next couple of weeks -- with more than a half dozen out-of-state stakes.
More weekday simulcasting could be the wave of the future.
Until now, state law has stipulated that only races worth $50,000, or more, could be simulcast at Pimlico and Laurel race courses. That limited the normal bill of fare to weekend stakes races, but when the new off-track betting bill takes effect July 1, that restriction will be lifted.
Any race can be simulcast, "but that doesn't mean automatically we're going to have five live races and five simulcasts," said Timothy Capps, Pimlico vice president and director of racing. "We have a good-faith agreement with the horsemen, stipulating a certain number of live races each week. The number doesn't necessarily hold at 50 live races a week. In these times of fewer horses and shorter fields, I think everyone realizes that might not always be possible.
"What the new law does is give us more flexibility. On weekends, when we have larger crowds, we want to emphasize live racing. dTC But now that's when we've been pretty much restricted to stakes simulcasts."
The Keeneland and Saratoga meets are exceptions. Those short, quality venues are jam-packed with stakes, many carded on weekdays.
What Capps envisions is simulcasting feature races from other tracks during the week "which could help us save a good live race for the weekends. But we're not going to simulcast just any race. It has to be a good race that is bettable. With Keeneland, we are taking advantage of a perfect situation. We can supplement our program with some of their quality stakes."
Capps added that management had thought of simulcasting the Keeneland races last year.
"We had 10 live races then, and it made the card a little crowded," he said. "This year we only have nine live races and it makes a nice added attraction."
NOTES: Local 3-year-olds Pie in Your Eye and Surely Six, who finished 1-2 in the Cherry Hill Mile, will meet again April 18 in the $500,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Charlie Peoples, trainer of Pie In Your Eye, said the horse's owners, Bayard Sharp and his son-in-law, Will Farish, "will pick the jockey. It will probably be a New York rider who is familiar with the track." Surely Six will be ridden by Rick Wilson. . . . My Lady's Manor Point-to-Point, held tomorrow in Monkton, is adding closed circuit telecasts of its three timber races to its eight corporate sponsor tents. Post time for the first race is 3:30 p.m. . . . Exit West, Local Problem and Neoptolemus, all local horses, are entered in tomorrow's Grade III Garden State Stakes at Garden State Park (N.J.). . . . Sunday's John B. Campbell Handicap appears to be a three-horse confrontation among Sunny Sunrise, Gala Spinaway and Valley Crossing. All have worked superbly over the Pimlico strip this week. . . . Trainer Katy Voss said her mare, Wood So, the top Maryland-bred money earner this year with winnings of $223,332, is being pointed for the Budweiser Breeders' Cup at Garden State Park on May 24. "But if she's acting good, we might run her sometime in early May," Voss said. Wood So finished fourth at a mile in the Bed O' Roses Handicap at Aqueduct in her last start. She jumped a patch on the track during the running of the race, but was not injured. "But she lost her momentum, and it probably cost her second or third money," said Voss.
Tentative weekday schedule
Today: Elkhorn Stakes (Keeneland)
Tuesday: Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (Keeneland)
Thursday: Forerunner Stakes (Keeneland)
April 16: Top Flight Handicap (Aqueduct)
April 21: Lexington Stakes (Keeneland)
April 23: Bewitch Stakes (Keeneland)
April 24: Ben Ali Handicap (Keeneland)
Tentative weekend schedule
Tomorrow: Blue Grass Stakes (Keeneland), Oaklawn Handicap (Oaklawn)
Sunday: Commonwealth Breeders' Cup (Keeneland), Tropical Park Oaks (Calder)
April 18: Wood Memorial (Aqueduct), Arkansas Derby (Oaklawn)
April 25: Excelsior Handicap (Aqueduct), National Jockey Club Handicap (Sportsman's Park), Derby Trial (Churchill Downs)
April 26: Bouwerie Stakes (Aqueduct)