Betting, attendance fall at two tracks Pimlico, Laurel cite economy for declines

January 01, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Handle and attendance at Laurel and Pimlico race courses declined for the second straight year in 1992, but not as sharply as they did in 1991, track management reported yesterday.

In the past year, betting declined 5.6 percent and attendance 2.8 percent from the previous year. In 1991, handle dropped 7 percent and attendance 6 percent from 1990.

Since business reached an all-time high in 1990, Maryland's two major thoroughbred tracks have seen business decline. In 1992, handle and attendance figures were the lowest they have been since 1988, when inter-track wagering first was introduced between the two tracks.

Laurel-Pimlico general manager Jim Mango said the 1992 declines were about what he had expected. The tracks ran about 10 percent fewer live races last year than in 1991 because of a horse and owner shortage.

"I think the figures reflect the state of the economy in general and the problem we have with horseflesh," Mango said. "We have to hope the economy improves and that we work the horse problem out by adding more simulcasting. These are the same problems we have been facing the last couple of years. We just have to try to work it out."

The tracks hope to start taking additional televised races from such out-of-state tracks as Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Santa Anita parks once the state racing commission clears up legal ambiguities in a current simulcasting law.

The multiple-signal simulcasts could start in February after new totalisator equipment is installed at the end of the month. The additional simulcasts, plus the introduction of cross-breed simulcasting between the state's harness and thoroughbred tracks and the establishment of Maryland's first off-track betting parlors, are the tonic track officials hope will reverse the two-year business decline.

Pimlico and Laurel handles and attendance

Year. . Days Total handle. Avg. daily handle Total attendance

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... . Avg

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. ... .. ... .... ...daily

... ... ...... ... ... ... ... ... ... ..... ... ... ... ....attendance

1987* ....277..$351,366,467 ...$1,268,471... .. 2,480,962..... 8,956

1988** ...273..$420,761,281 ...$1,541,250... .. 2,868,388.....10,506

1989 ... .264..$423,870,144 ...$1,605,189.... . 2,852,197.....10,803

1990 ... .264..$435,874,022 ...$1,651,038.... . 2,882,298.....10,917

1991 ... .258..$403,966,813 ...$1,565,762... .. 2,701,434.....10,470

1992 ... .254..$375,582,714 ...$1,478,672... .. 2,584,480.....10,175

*-De Francis-Manfuso brothers own both tracks; **-Inter-track wagering begins

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