Inter-track wagering rides again Interim deal OK'd

talks to continue

June 09, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

Inter-track wagering has not reached the finish line yet.

Pimlico-Laurel president Joe De Francis said yesterday that an interim agreement has been struck with the harness racing industry to continue the inter-track wagering experiment until a long-term solution can be negotiated.

De Francis emphasized that the interim deal was made to take care of the betting customers instead of halting the six-week experiment.

Last week, Alan Foreman, attorney for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, announced that talks had come to an impasse and the inter-track experiment would end with the beginning of racing at Laurel tomorrow.

Jack Mosner, chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission, made it clear last week that the commission favors a continuation of inter-track betting and said "I would hope the two sides are big enough to sit down and compromise."

De Francis said yesterday: "We have a pie and now we have to agree on how to share that pie."

De Francis is referring to the revenue that is being produced by wagering outlets for harness racing at night at Pimlico and Laurel and day-betting facilities for thoroughbred racing at Rosecroft Raceway.

Harness interests have profited immensely from having Pimlico and Laurel open, but the reverse has not been true, with Rosecroft cutting into Laurel's handles.

Baltimore race-goers who used to attend now-defunct Freestate Raceway in Laurel but wouldn't drive the extra mileage to Rosecroft (in lower Prince George's County) have found a new home at Pimlico.

De Francis said he hopes that the two sides can reach an agreement through racing commission intervention.

"Hopefully the horsemen can agree to arbitration," said De Francis, who has requested a meeting with harness track officials for Sunday.

When asked how tough he thought it would be to reach a long-term inter-track agreement, De Francis said: "Based on the last two weeks, it will be hard."

De Francis announced yesterday the basic terms and conditions of the original inter-track agreement will continue in the interim, with some modifications.

One such modification is Pimlico and Laurel being allowed to take thoroughbred wagering after 7:15 p.m. through teller-less terminals only, saving money on staffing and overtime costs.

The vast majority of such wagering is on the Southern California signal.

The net revenue from all wagering through teller-less terminals will be split 50-50 between the thoroughbred and harness racing industries.

Another modification is that Colt Enterprises will begin as early as next week to take wagers at Delmarva on all thoroughbred signals offered for wagering in Maryland. Colt will pay the costs associated with the wagering and will agree with the Maryland Jockey Club (Pimlico/Laurel) on the percentage of thoroughbred handle to be paid to Colt.

Still another change is that beginning with the start of the Yonkers meet June 22, Laurel/Pimlico will take a daytime harness signal. That schedule will have Laurel/Pimlico picking up the Yonkers signal on Tuesdays, Balmoral on Fridays, and Foxboro, Mass., on Saturdays and Sundays.

The net revenue from this daytime harness wagering will be split 50-50 between the thoroughbred and harness industries.

De Francis said: "In the unfortunate event that it becomes clear that a longer-term agreement can't be reached, then any party to the original inter-tracking agreement can terminate this interim agreement at any time."

* The handle for 56 days of racing at Pimlico was up as expected due to the addition of inter-track wagering and the two Off-Track Betting sites at The Cracked Claw restaurant in Urbana, Frederick County, and Poor Jimmy's Family Restaurant in Cecil County. The handle at Pimlico that also included Laurel simulcasting was $77,531,214. That figure grew to $124,227,359 with the addition of $29,635,572 from outside betting on Pimlico's signal and $17,060,573 from betting at Pimlico on outside signals.

* Joe Rocco, who finished fifth in the final jockey standings at the Pimlico meet that concluded yesterday, was thrown by MarlenesAtTheMall shortly after leaving the gate in the fifth race yesterday. Rocco was taken to Sinai Hospital for X-rays, which proved to be negative. Rocco was released with an injured right ankle.

* Edgar Prado, despite sitting out the final two weeks of the Pimlico meet with a leg injury, won the riding title with 78 victories. Michael Luzzi and Austrebert Salazar, 21, were tied for second with 49 wins. The winning trainer was King T. Leatherbury with 27 victories.

* The eighth Maryland Million will be held at Laurel this year. A news conference is scheduled for tomorrow at Laurel to announce plans for the "Maryland Million Thoroughbred Festival '93," the expanded festivities surrounding the race to be held Sept. 26-Oct. 9.

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