Bassfords top list of '92 winners

HORSE RACING

December 27, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

What were the happiest scenes and who had the best luck in racing this year?

1992 was a good year for . . .

* Nick and Elaine Bassford. It seemed like their horses did nothing but win. Runners owned by the Davidsonsville couple earned more than $1 million. This year marked the ascendancy of their home-bred Brilliant Brass. She recovered from a knee fracture and won graded stakes.

* Shelley Riley. She fainted after her horse, Casual Lies, finished second in the Kentucky Derby. But the former sheriff's department dispatcher will go down in horse history as one of the funniest stand-up comics in the Triple Crown Series.

* The Maryland Million. It has now surpassed the International Turf Festival as the second-biggest draw in Maryland racing, exceeded only by the Preakness.

* Tomonori Tsuramaki. The Japanese owner was upset after A. P. Indy missed the Kentucky Derby and Preakness with a hurt hoof. But big victories in the Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic should make the colt Horse of the Year.

* Nick Zito. After 13 tries, Strike the Gold finally made it back into the winner's circle at the Pimlico Special.

* David and Joanne Hayden, Sy Cohen. It's still possible to strike it rich raising thoroughbreds. The Haydens, from Upperco, sold their three 6-month-old weanlings at the Keeneland sales for $485,000. Miami-based Cohen scored big in the Selima Stakes. Two horses he bought as youngsters for a total of $18,000 netted nearly $250,000 that day. His Booly won the $120,000 winner's purse. He sold Morphonyess, his other filly who finished up the track, for $120,000 prior to the race.

* Joe De Francis. He started to emerge from his father's shadow. An OTB bill was passed. He asserted himself in Texas, where his group, the Lone Star Jockey Club, won the license to build a track near Dallas. He got great press after he announced plans to build a track in Virginia. Now, if he can only get some of these things accomplished.

* Maryland horse owners: They no longer have to run their horses for nothing. Every starter earns at least $100.

* Gulfstream Park, site of the Breeders' Cup. Hurricane Andrew turned and headed south.

It was a horrible year for . . .

* The Racing Times. The competitor to the Daily Racing Form folded after 10 months.

* Joe De Francis. On opening day at Pimlico, the starting gate malfunctioned. An erroneous Triple pay-off on the Black-Eyed Susan card cost the track $40,000 and the fans' good will. During the summer, $80,000 turned up missing from the money room. A couple of weeks ago, $55,000 was stolen from Pimlico. Pimlico horsemen boycotted Laurel entries and eventually forced De Francis to keep one side of the track open for stabling this winter. There were computer glitches galore as the tracks entered the era of "commingling." Although De Francis has beaten his partners, Bob and Tom Manfuso, in courtroom tussles and taken away their cars and offices, the battle for control of Laurel-Pimlico still rages. For the second straight year, business at the tracks showed another significant decline.

* Arazi. The best thing that happened to him was being retired.

* The International Turf Festival. Virtually ignored by Laurel's marketing department, the five-race series showed about a 20-percent betting decrease.

* The Pimlico-Laurel marketing department: They must miss Lynda O'Dea, who is now devoting her time to a make over of the Power Plant.

* Hammer's racing stable. The Burrell family were not happy campers after their horse, Dance Floor, drew an outside post at the Preakness. But Pops and the gang are bound to resurface.

Encouraging thoughts for the new year

* Maybe after a year of talking about it, the first Maryland off-track betting parlor will finally be opened.

* If keno, which starts next week, is as successful as El Gordo, horse racing has nothing to worry about.

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