Panel approves inter-track plan Pimlico card to be carried at Rosecroft

April 21, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Maryland's new inter-track betting system -- linking the state's thoroughbred and harness industries -- finally begins tomorrow after nearly a year of tedious negotiations and wearisome delays.

The Maryland Racing Commission -- minus one member who was out of town -- unanimously approved the pact through a phone poll conducted this week. The vote had been postponed last week until after a final study of a minority business participation report, contracts between the track operators and security procedures.

For the first time, tomorrow afternoon's Pimlico card will be carried on closed-circuit television at Rosecroft Raceway, a harness track in Fort Washington, which is traditionally only open at night. It gives thoroughbred track management a chance to expand their market into this populous area of Prince George's County.

Rosecroft now joins Laurel Race Course as a simulcast outlet for Pimlico's live daily card and will be operated during the afternoons by Pimlico/Laurel management.

Clarence Nickleberry is the thoroughbred tracks' simulcast supervisor for Rosecroft.

In turn, Rosecroft will televise its nighttime harness races at Pimlico and Laurel. At night, the tracks will be run by Rosecroft management. Carol Clark is Rosecroft's inter-track wagering manager at Laurel and Marilyn Washington will run operations at Pimlico.

The move means that the state's harness industry will regain a foothold in the Baltimore area, which it lost after Freestate Raceway in Laurel closed in 1989.

The new format means that the three tracks will be open continuously from noon to about midnight for constant thoroughbred and harness wagering.

Soon, a fourth track -- Delmarva Downs harness track in Ocean City-- will be added to the lineup, "hopefully before the Preakness [May 15]," said Pimlico/Laurel operator Joe De Francis.

The programs at all of the outlets will be augmented by full cards of televised races from out-of-state tracks that will be gradually phased in over the next week.

Starting tomorrow night, The Meadowlands harness races from New Jersey will be interspersed with the Rosecroft card at Pimlico and Laurel. On Friday and Saturday nights, additional races from Delmarva Downs will join the harness lineup. On Sunday, when The Meadowlands is dark, that card is replaced by 11 races from Balmoral Park near Chicago.

On April 29, full-card simulcasts from Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif., and Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., will join the afternoon thoroughbred line-up. After the Kentucky Derby on May 1, daily full-card simulcasts from the New York tracks will be added, De Francis said.

Here is how the new system works:

* Afternoon Thoroughbreds at Rosecroft: The televised Pimlico races begin at 1 p.m. and end at approximately 5:15 p.m. Until the Hollywood Park simulcast is added next week, there will be about a 2-hour lag time until the harness races begin at 7:30 p.m.

Admission is $3. General parking is free. Preferred parking costs $2.

* Nighttime Harness Races at Pimlico: The live thoroughbred program ends about 5:15 p.m. Until the California simulcasts start next week, there will be about a 2-hour period until the televised harness races start at 7:30 p.m. Admission and parking is free.

* Nighttime Harness Races at Laurel: The same format as Pimlico is followed. Admission and parking are free.

All the betting action, either during the day or night at the three tracks, is commingled into one large pool and the pay-offs are the same at all locations.

"Putting this all together is like one big jigsaw puzzle," said Pimlico/Laurel general manager Jim Mango.

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