Pimlico fails user-friendly test Track officials to mull critique by national columnist

April 18, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Rachel Shuster has been covering sports for 15 years, 11 of them with USA Today.

She's covered hockey, tennis, the National Football League and the World Series.

Six months ago, she was given her own column.

"I wanted to broaden myself a little," she said. "And with the Kentucky Derby coming up, I thought I'd head out to the track."

Since Shuster lives in the Washington area, she decided she'd go to Pimlico "because that's the site of the Preakness."

It was only her second trip to a racetrack. Her first occurred several years ago at the harness races in Saratoga, N.Y.

Shuster describes herself as a marginal racing fan at best, the kind, she wrote, "that tracks must seek in a lagging industry affected by rundown facilities and competition from casinos and lotteries."

But what Shuster found when she got to Pimlico were disgusting conditions in a women's room -- the one near the north grandstand entrance -- and no simple, easy-to-read informational guide on how to place a bet. Otherwise, she said, it was fun.

"My mother -- who had never before been to a racetrack -- was with me and if I hadn't been there, she wouldn't have had a clue on what to do," Shuster said.

A couple of days later Shuster's account of the trip, titled "Don't bet on racetrack's hospitality," appeared in the April 13 issue of USA Today.

It was such a damning condemnation of non-user-friendly conditions at Pimlico that Maryland Racing Commission chairman John H. "Jack" Mosner Jr., said he wants to set up a meeting with management to discuss the article.

"I think they [management] need someone walking around [to check on facilities]," Mosner said.

Shuster said it's obvious that amenities need to be shaped up.

"That ladies room is worse than the ones on the New Jersey Turnpike and at rock-bottom in all of my experiences at sports facilities," she said.

Shuster added: "They also need to at least give the people who aren't going to spend big bucks a chance to learn how to lose their money.

"That is, of course, if they want new people to come to the track. Maybe they don't."

Woody's comeback

Woods of Windsor, who has not raced since finishing a disappointing seventh in the first division of the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 27, is working like gangbusters at the Bowie Training Center.

The colt is expected to start for the first time in nearly two months on Saturday in the 9-furlong Federico Tesio Stakes.

Last Thursday, under Rick Wilson, "Woody" went six furlongs in 1 minute, 12 1/5 seconds, seven furlongs in 1:26 and galloped out a mile at Bowie.

He will run on Lasix for the first time in the Tesio.

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