Simulcasts stuck in legal snarl Arrangements with 3 tracks may be delayed until March

HORSE RACING

December 20, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

A legal snafu might keep Laurel-Pimlico management from taking bets on televised races from Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Santa Anita parks until Pimlico opens March 25.

Officials had hoped to start taking the multiple-signal simulcaston Jan. 22, then moved the date to Feb. 4. But now it's more up in the air than ever.

The problem arose last week when Rosecroft Raceway officials planned to take Pompano Park simulcasts from Florida.

A couple of hours before post time they realized the takeout (amount of each dollar divided among the state, horsemen and tracks) at the host track (Pompano) differed from the takeout at the guest track (Rosecroft). Maryland players should receive payoffs based on the odds in the Florida commingled pool.

But under Maryland law, at least as interpreted by Ken Schertle, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, bets can't be taken on a full-card, commingled pool simulcast unless the takeout in the host state is the same as in Maryland.

Rosecroft canceled its Pompano simulcasts and jeopardizearrangements the thoroughbred tracks had made with Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Santa Anita to take their cards.

Schertle's argument seems illogical since only one other stateNew Jersey, has the same takeout percentages as Maryland. The rule was written to allow common pool wagering, but under his interpretation, it would eliminate it with all states except New Jersey.

The wording of the law is ambiguous and could be read to mean bets placed in Maryland would be paid out according to the commingled pool in another state, even if the takeouts differ.

"When the law was written [last March], simulcasting was still in its infancy and no one was clear then what all of this language meant and how it should be worded," said Joe De Francis, Laurel-Pimlico operator.

He is asking the Maryland Racing Commission lawyer, Bruce Spizler, for clarification. If the law needs to be changed, it will have to be done by the General Assembly and could take months. Hence, the possibility that there will be no multiple signals until Pimlico opens.

Meanwhile, nearby states such as West Virginia, which takes full-card California simulcasts at the Charles Town Races, and Delaware, where full-card simulcasts from Florida and New York are taken at Delaware Park, continue to eat away at Maryland's business and betting handles here keep dropping.

Miscellaneous

Maryland farm owners Thor and Martha Ramsing celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary yesterday in Palm Beach, Fla. Three of their four daughters are involved in local horse sports. Cynthia McGinnes operates the family-owned Thornmar Farm in Chestertown; Karen Bixler, from Kennett Square, Pa., is among the country's top dressage riders; Beth Palmgren formerly operated King's Cross Farm in Monkton, but now lives in Free Union, Va. . . . When Laurel re-opens for business on Saturday, it will mark the debut of the track's new catering firm, Maryland Turf Caterers, operated by Brian Handleman.

Christmas schedules

Most tracks in the immediate area are taking weeklong Christmas breaks from live racing.

' Here are the schedules:

Laurel (and Pimlico simulcast center)

Open today. Post time noon. Closed tomorrow through Friday. Re-opens Saturday, post time noon.

Rosecroft (and Delmarva simulcast center)

Closed today through Dec. 29. Re-opens Dec. 30, post time 7:30 p.m.

Charles Town

Live racing: Closed through Friday. Re-opens Saturday, post time 7 p.m.

California simulcasts: Open today, post time 3:30 p.m. Closed tomorrow and Tuesday. Open Wednesday, post time 3:30 p.m. Open Thursday, post time 2 p.m. Closed Friday. Open Saturday, post time 3:30 p.m.

Penn National

Live racing: Open today, post time 1:30 p.m. Closed tomorrow through Friday. Open Saturday, post time 7:30 p.m.

hTC Philadelphia Park simulcasts: Open tomorrow, Tuesday and Thursday, post time 12:30 p.m. Closed Wednesday and Friday.

Delaware Park

Simulcasts only (Aqueduct, post time 12:30 p.m.; Calder Race Course, post time 1 p.m.) Open today through Wednesday. Closed Thursday and Friday. Open Saturday.

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