Hoffberger prevailed in background Drafted agreement for Pimlico winter HORSE RACING Notebook

October 18, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

It was a mini-crisis that ended happily.

But if an unsung hero award were to be given in the recent dispute between track management and thoroughbred horsemen about the closing of Pimlico Race Course, averted at the 11th hour late last week, it would probably go to Richard Hoffberger, president of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

It was Hoffberger who drafted the framework for keeping the Baltimore track open for winter training.

After the efforts of Pimlico horsemen failed to change track operator Joe De Francis' mode of thinking, Hoffberger was vilified by some Pimlico horsemen for not doing enough to solve the problem. But, ironically, it was Hoffberger, working behind the scenes, who got De Francis to re-think his position.

The MTHA board initially rebuked Hoffberger's idea that only a six-member committee should cut a deal with De Francis on issues such as Rosecroft inter-tracking and OTB contracts. But when the full board met with De Francis on Friday and ironed out the problems, it unanimously agreed to an agenda that originally was Hoffberger's plan.

International trivia

There's always lots happening at the racetrack, but the pace steps up a bit during a big event such as the International Turf Festival.

Did you know that:

* The International could be the last start for Sillery? Afterward, the Blushing Groom colt is set to go to stud at Le Quesnay, Alec Head's 600-acre breeding farm located near Deauville. Head keeps about 150 broodmares and young horses there, including eight stallions.

* King Leatherbury claimed Colonel Hill from Howard Wolfendale last week for $35,000?

* Ms. Zill Bear, winner of the Martha Washington Handicap at Laurel, has been invited to run this weekend in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland Race Course? Owners Phyllis and Bill Dixon of Annapolis have accepted the invitation to run their horse. Apprentice Steve Hamilton will ride.

* Christopher Sharpe, head traveling lad for English trainer Paul Cole, drives about 30,000 miles a year transporting Cole's runners by van to different tracks all over Europe? It takes about 75 minutes to cross the English Channel by ferry. It takes nine hours to get from Cole's yard near Lambourn to Paris and 14 hours to get Baden-Baden.

* If Bill Clinton is elected president, his mother, Virginia Kelly, would probably come to the races at Laurel during the inauguration? Chick Lang Jr., a track executive at Oaklawn Park in Kelly's hometown of Hot Springs, Ark., said Kelly "is a real race fan. During simulcast season, she comes to the track about once a week. During the live racing season, she's here just about every day."

* Doug Vair, former Baltimore radio sports personality, is back after a stint as marketing director at Bandera Downs in Texas? He co-ordinated daily television news feeds for Laurel during Turf Festival week.

* The site of the proposed Lone Star Jockey Club track in the Dallas-Fort Worth area used to be a wild animal park?

* Laurel spent about $60,000 buying television time for the Maryland Million, but zero dollars for the Budweiser International? Instead, about $50,000 was spent on radio advertising for the International, mostly in the Washington market.

* The new wall near the back of the Laurel grandstand seating section was erected after numerous fans complained about the temperature in the large open area? Engineers suggested constructing the wall so that temperatures would be more comfortable. The wall knocks out about eight sections of seats.

* Katy Voss won not only the Budweiser Breeders' Cup at the Meadowlands last week with Wood So, but also a turf feature with Be Nimble? Trainer Tom Voss won a grass allowance race with Log Roller, his promising Northern Baby 2-year-old.

* Bill Shoemaker never won a Budweiser International, but he did win three runnings of the Laurel Futurity? His three Futurity winners were Jewel's Reward (1957), Intentionally (1958) and Crimson Satan (1961).

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