Harness horsemen agree on simulcast Night cards headed for Pimlico, Laurel

December 08, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Harness racing has moved a step closer to having a nighttime simulcast center in Baltimore.

Last night, harness horsemen met in Kent Island and unanimously approved a financial agreement with the management of Rosecroft and Delmarva raceways that paves the way for standardbred races to be simulcast into Laurel and Pimlico thoroughbred tracks at night.

The intertrack "cross-breed" arrangement, in which thoroughbred races then would be simulcast in the afternoons at Rosecroft and Delmarva, is expected to start Jan. 22, according to an official of the harness tracks.

In the arrangement, harness tracks are expected to be in charge of running the night operation at the thoroughbred tracks, and thoroughbred operators would run the harness plants during the day.

The horsemen agreed last night to give up a share of their betting proceeds to help pay expenses during a 90-day, experimental intertrack period.

Colt Enterprises, the harness operator, had wanted the horsemen to pay 50 percent of the costs, but has struck a compromise in which the horsemen will pay less.

Refusal to agree on a pact had been a major stumbling block in the efforts to start the intertrack experiment and prompted the Maryland Racing Commission to table all standardbred requests until a deal was struck.

Commission chairman Jack Mosner said last night he is glad to see the deal worked out.

"It's only an experiment, and I think it has positive prospects," Mosner said. "This gives the harness tracks a Baltimore market [at Pimlico] and gets thoroughbreds down onto the Eastern Shore [at Delmarva]. As soon as the technological aspects can be addressed, I hope the experiment starts as soon as possible."

Colt Enterprises still has to sign an intertrack agreement with Laurel-Pimlico management, but, last weekend, Jim Mango, vice president of operations at the Maryland Jockey Club facilities, said that deal nearly has been fully negotiated.

Ted Snell, president of Rosecroft, said the agreement between the tracks "should be done quickly, as long as we are assured we can go into Pimlico."

Mango is meeting with Pimlico neighborhood groups on Thursday night in an effort to elicit their support.

The thoroughbred tracks also must strike a deal with Local 27 of the Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents mutuels and other track employees, in order to hire a new work force at Rosecroft and Delmarva in the afternoons.

Lights will have to be installed in the parking lots at Laurel and Pimlico in order to have the night harness simulcasts. Estimated cost for that project is about $100,000.

Charles Lockhart, executive director of Cloverleaf, the organization representing harness horsemen, said 23 of his 30 board members were present last night at the meeting in

Grasonville.

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