'Thoroughaction' comes to Pimlico/Laurel

April 28, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

Pimlico and Laurel race courses will offer a full afternoon card of wagering on out-of-state thoroughbred races beginning tomorrow.

Bettors will be able to place wagers at windows or at new self-service machines, then watch the races televised from Churchill Downs and Hollywood Park. Belmont Park is scheduled to join the mix when it opens next week.

"Hopefully, this will be a real shot in the arm for the industry," said Pimlico/Laurel president Joe De Francis. "The buzzword for this is 'Thoroughaction,' racing from 1 until 7.

"Our biggest criticism from fans, especially new fans, is the time between [live] races. It just gets boring. Now there will be 35 to lTC 40 races, where we used to offer nine or 10."

De Francis said the Daily Racing Form sold at the Maryland tracks will carry past performances for horses running in both live and simulcast cards for any race.

After Belmont opens next Wednesday, cards from five tracks [also harness racing from Freehold, N.J.] will be offered on certain afternoons.

Under terms of the simulcasting contract with Rosecroft Raceway, no wagering on thoroughbreds will be permitted after 7:15 p.m. at the Maryland tracks.

De Francis said Pimlico and Laurel may also pick up the signal from the Monmouth Park summer meeting when it begins "but we certainly wouldn't go much beyond that. There is a limit as to how many we can hold [because of a contract agreement with the mutuel clerks]."

Under the pact, 60 percent of the clerks will handle wagers on Maryland races only, 40 percent will handle any wagers.

Bettors can use self-service computer betting terminals, which offer $1 bets on all pools, for any race.

"Hopefully, this way we can have the best of both worlds and it will prevent people from getting shut out at the window," said De Francis.

He added that the live fields are beginning to fill out after an early spring run of short fields that he called "an aberration.

"That's the toughest time of the year. There are no 2-year-olds racing, people haven't come back from Florida and a lot of the 2-year-olds bring viruses and colds to the sheds. You can see field sizes starting to increase now," De Francis concluded.

The tracks have an agreement with the horsemen to run at least 47 live races weekly.

* With post times occasionally conflicting, the Maryland tracks will adjust to accommodate the simulcasts.

Post time for the live card at Pimlico tomorrow is 1:15 p.m.; simulcast wagering begins at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

The Maryland track will begin its card at noon Friday and at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

* The Maryland Racing Commission last night delayed a vote on the opening of the state's first off-track betting parlor in Frederick County.

"There are items that the commission still has to consider further," said Ken Schertle, executive secretary of the commission.

The action reportedly was taken at the request of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who asked the commission to hold up its decision until after his visit to Frederick tomorrow.

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