Abbundi assistant is likely successor Racing secretary to be named

January 23, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Thomas J. Baker, longtime assistant to retiring director of racing Larry Abbundi, is expected to be named the new racing secretary at Laurel and Pimlico race courses.

Baker's appointment will be announced shortly at a news conference along with a number of other hirings, sources said.

Among them:

* Georgeanne Hale, paddock judge and timer, will be promoted to Baker's former job as assistant racing secretary.

* Craig Sculos, former director of communications at Foxboro Park in Foxboro, Mass., and a former director of publicity at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Mass., will be named media relations director, taking over the position vacated a couple of months ago by Damon Thayer.

Abbundi has been a racing secretary at Maryland tracks since 1966. He announced his resignation last week after Leonard C. Hale, former senior vice president of the New York Racing Association, was appointed vice president of racing at Laurel-Pimlico.

However, Abbundi is expected to be asked to stay on in a part-time position as handicapper, meaning he will assign weights in stakes races.

Hale's appointment sparked a recent management shake-up.

Timothy Capps, formerly vice president of racing, became vice president of communications. In addition, two new positions were created: vice president of development and director of operations. Neither of those positions has been filled yet.

In a recent interview, Hale said he regards the racing secretary's job as one of the most important on the racetrack.

The racing secretary writes the condition book -- deciding in advance which races in all horse age groups and at specific distances will be carded each day -- oversees the daily function of taking entries and coordinates most horsemen-related activities.

Hale oversees some functions of the department, but also is involved in track operator Joe De Francis' expansion plans into Virginia.

Baker, 62, was born in West Chester, Pa., and has spent most of his life on the racetrack. He started galloping horses as a teen-ager and served as assistant to trainer Bernie Bond for 11 years before taking out his own trainer's license.

For the past 20 years, he has worked in a variety of capacities in the racing secretary's office at Maryland tracks and has been Abbundi's chief assistant since 1978.

When reached last night, Baker would not comment on the proposed appointment. Laurel-Pimlico officials also declined comment.

In addition to her duties at Laurel and Pimlico, Georgeanne Hale, who is no relation to Lenny Hale, serves as racing secretary at the 10-day Timonium meet.

Georgeanne Hale is vacationing in Antigua and was not available for comment.

De Francis said yesterday that impending announcements in the area of racing and communications would be made today or tomorrow.

"But they are not my announcements to make," he said. "I'm leaving it entirely up to Lenny Hale [in racing] and Tim Capps [in communications]."

'First Mother' comes to Laurel

Virginia Kelley, mother of President Clinton and a well-known racing fan, is expected to attend the races at Laurel today.

She is scheduled to arrive at noon, have lunch and then watch the races from a clubhouse box.

Kelley is an avid race fan at Oaklawn Park in her home state of Arkansas. Capps said he hopes Kelley becomes a Laurel-Pimlico regular when she visits Washington.

Her impending arrival was noted yesterday in an advertisement in the Daily Racing Form, taken out by the partners of the Hampshire Racing Stable.

The ad read:

"The Hampshire Racing Partnership welcomes President Bill Clinton's Mother, Ms. Virginia Kelley, the Nation's #1 Racing Fan, to Washington and to Maryland Racing."

Said Malcolm Barr, a general partner in the Hampshire Stable that is trained by Dale Capuano: "We heard she might be coming out and we just wanted to have a voice and welcome her to Laurel as a friend of racing.

"Not since J. Edgar Hoover have we had a Washington personality so interested in the sport. We hear she's a $2 bettor, and we think she epitomizes what racing is all about. It's a lot more fun than looking over a keno card."

Feldman does the honors

Muggins Feldman, 80, former director of publicity at Bowie Race Course, will be at Laurel with his wife, Sandy, today to make the presentation to the winner of the Maryland Racing Writers' Handicap.

Voss won't appeal suspension

Trainer Katy Voss said she will not appeal a recent 15-day suspension administered to her by the Laurel stewards. One of Voss' horses, Anyone's Daughter, tested positive for an excessive level of Butazolidin after winning the fourth race at Laurel on Jan. 8.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.