Pimlico might try to start a Pick-6 during spring


November 01, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

The Breeders' Cup has a National Pick-7.

Belmont Park had its own National Pick-6 on Super Saturday II.

The Thoroughbred Racing Associations experimented with three National Pic-6s.

Now, Pimlico Race Course might market its own National Pick-6 this spring when the Preakness and Pimlico Special are presented on the same card.

The American Championship Racing Series announced changes in its 1993 schedule, putting the Pimlico Special, an ACRS race, back-to-back with the Preakness for the first time.

Pimlico operator Joe De Francis initially wasn't happy with the move. "But unless we agreed to do it, there wouldn't be any ACRS series in 1993," he said.

Then he began to think about how to make the most of the re-scheduling format and came up with the Pick-6 idea.

In addition to the Pimlico Special and Preakness, the other four Pimlico Pick-6 races will include the Never Bend Handicap, the Budweiser Breeders' Cup Sprint, a handicap for 3-year-olds and a handicap for older fillies and mares.

"It is still a long way off to Preakness Day, and who knows what the TRA will be doing with their own National Pic-6 by then," De Francis said. "But this is something we want to do."

When the 1993 ACRS format was announced, two important races, the Santa Anita Handicap and Oaklawn Handicap, were dropped from the 1993 schedule as well as the Suburban Handicap, which was a last-minute replacement last summer for the defunct New England Classic.

Jane Goldstein, spokesman for Santa Anita Race Course, said her track didn't pull out of the series. "We made them an offer, and they [ACRS management] didn't accept it," she said.

Now two Florida races -- the Donn Handicap and Gulfstream Park Handicap -- kick off the series, followed by the Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 24.

DeFrancis said working out the schedule brought about an unlikely alliance between R. D. Hubbard, operator of Hollywood Park, and himself. Recently, they have tangled over building a track in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas.

"But Hubbard agreed to move the Californian back a week to April 24 if we agreed to move the Pimlico Special onto Preakness Day," De Francis said. "That gives a month to three weeks between races instead of two weeks. He couldn't move back any further because that is when his spring meet opens."

De Francis said the cooperative effort did not come in negotiations between the two men, but in general discussions during ACRS board meetings.

"I do have a letter in writing from Mr. Hubbard that says in 1994 we can move the Pimlico Special back to the week before the Preakness if this coming year's schedule doesn't work out," De Francis said.

Faces in the crowd

Among the Marylanders spotted around Gulfstream Park taking in the Breeders' Cup races:

* Betty Shea Miller, former manager of Merryland Farm in Hydes.

* Michael Wettach, owner of Andor Farm in Monkton. He is here with Peggy Augustus of Charlottesville, Va.

* Westminster photographer Rick Buckley, who has a display of his photographs in the Gulfstream Park clubhouse next to an exhibit of artwork executed by Michael Geraghty, the equine artist from Laurel.

* Bob Manfuso, part owner of Laurel and Pimlico race courses.

* John Merryman, prominent Maryland owner and breeder.

* Alan Foreman, counsel for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Cloverleaf harness horsemen's organization.

Plans for Strike the Gold

After Strike the Gold races in the Breeders' Cup Classic, he is scheduled to go to Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky., for a rest. There is a possibility the 4-year-old could be retired to stud.

But the horse might be worth more earning his keep on the racetrack rather than in the breeding shed.

Strike the Gold is a son of pre-eminent sire Alydar. But Strike the Gold, a real closer, is not noted for his speed, a top requisite in marketing any American stud.

The horse earned $1.8 million on the track through the first nine months of this year. His owners, Bill Condren and Joe Cornacchia, could only be expected to make about a fifth of that amount by collecting breeding fees from the horse.

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