Laurel alters eligibility to attract more horses

February 17, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

Laurel Race Course instituted a new plan yesterday designed to provide larger fields for race-goers to bet on.

Under a plan announced by Maryland Jockey Club vice president of racing Lenny Hale, minimum eligibility requirements for competing horses were reduced from $5,000 to $4,000, effective with yesterday's card.

By reducing the minimum value for horses, it is expected that more horses would be made available for $5,000 claiming events, the bottom rung on the claiming pole.

"We've been experiencing problems filling the $5,000 claiming races due to the shortage of horses in the region," said Hale. "One or two more horses per race at this level would make a big difference."

Said senior vice president Jim Mango: "It was Lenny's thought to do this. There is a tremendously competitive situation for horseflesh in this area.

"You could see that by what's happening on the last couple of days. We had a tremendous card Monday and still wound up with fields coming up a bit short."

The idea is to lure some cheaper horses, primarily from Charles Town, Penn National and Delaware Park, to run in Maryland.

* Stem The Tide, winner of the Grade III Carousel Handicap in December, is scheduled to carry a high weight of 117 pounds in Saturday's feature, the $50,000 Squan Song Handicap.

The program also will include the simulcast of the $500,000 Donn Handicap from Gulfstream Park that kicks off this year's American Championship Racing Series.

Stem The Tide ran fifth in the Barbara Fritchie Handicap on Saturday, and trainer James Murphy is expected to make a decision on whether he will bring her back by tomorrow.

Another nominee is Ritchie Trail, who finished a strong second in the Fritchie.

NOTES: Apprentice jockey Freddy Castillo has been granted a stay of his seven-day suspension pending a racing commission hearing. . . . Laurel management will hold its latest town meeting Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the first floor of the clubhouse. The sessions give fans a forum for their racing questions. . . . Laurel officials were scheduled to meet yesterday with representatives of The Cracked Claw, a restaurant near Frederick, regarding their off-track-betting contract, but it was canceled because of the inclement weather. . . . Yesterday's card went off over a sloppy track with Mario Pino and Edgar Prado winning two races each. In the co-featured Rollodka purse, favored Lulu's Boy, with Castillo up, had a favorable head bob at the wire to hold off the fast-charging Hagley's Hero, under Joe Rocco. Rocco had won the other allowance race on the card with 4-to-5 shot Saudi Brass.


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