Maryland Million goes upscale 'Festival '93' offers corporate packages

Laurel notebook

June 11, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

The eighth Maryland Million will be an upscale production that will try to take advantage of the Washington-Baltimore region as the nation's fourth largest market.

There will be two new high-profile concepts in corporate hospitality, a more glitzy name for the two-week festivities surrounding the event that will be held at Laurel Race Course for the third time, and an attempt to draw Washington and Baltimore together for at least one day.

Richard W. Wilcke, executive director of Maryland Million Ltd., said: "We have positioned the Maryland Million as the first sporting and social event for the bi-city region. It's the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Bullets. This will be a sports day for both cities."

The name tag for this year's event will be the Maryland Million Thoroughbred Festival '93 and it will run from Sept. 26 to Oct. 9, the day of the 12-race card.

The top corporate show will be the Paddock Court, which is being billed as "beachfront property" along the track rail. It will offer corporations a large, private tent for 120 guests with an unobstructed view of the races from the first turn.

The second corporate package will be the Homestretch, which will feature a view of the horses as they round the final turn at the head of the stretch.

Mike Pons, a Harford County horse breeder and a member of the Maryland Million Committee, said the new corporate accommodations maintain the event's reputation as a trendsetter in this field.

"We were the first to have corporate tents in the infield and then the Preakness had them," Pons said. "And other racetracks around the country have started to follow our lead. It's something we're proud of."

Jim McKay, a Monkton resident and founder of the Maryland Million, attended yesterday's news conference at Laurel to announce the plans for the event and was obviously a proud man.

"Besides providing an unequaled day of purses [$1 million] for Maryland-sired horses and an opportunity for corporate sponsors entertain clients, customers and business associates in an elegant setting, the Maryland Million is all about bringing different people together who may never meet in their life," said McKay.

But the most excited man yesterday was Home Team Sports general manager Bill Aber.

HTS will produce and televise a live, two-hour special from 4 to 6 p.m. from Laurel the day of the races.

"We like to believe we can do every major sports event in the state of Maryland," Aber said. "But it's taken us eight years to get the Maryland Million. First we were told we were not big enough, so we went out and got 2.5 million viewers in five Mid-Atlantic states. Then they told us they liked national coverage, so we got Prime Network. Next they said Jim McKay liked a Maryland connection, so we moved our whole operation to Bethesda."

Aber, smiling over his comments on the move to Bethesda from Washington, then looked at McKay in the audience and said: "It's not easy to produce an event with Jim McKay looking over your shoulder. We promise to make you proud."

Trainer Bailes dies at 56

Meredith Bailes, a Crofton-based trainer who ran J. R.'s Horizon in the 1990 Preakness, died yesterday after apparent complications from heart surgery (angioplasty).

Bailes, 56, had just attended the races at Pimlico last Friday and was doing fine, according to retired jockey Bennie Green, who spent a lot of time around Bailes at Aqueduct.

Three other men closely associated with Maryland horse racing have died in the past few days.

They are Pat Patterson, 65, a retired trainer from Glyndon; Skeets Holland, 83, an exercise boy at Pimlico; and Jervy Marshall, 58, a prominent Maryland breeder.

Rocco will skip Monmouth

Jockey Joe Rocco, who finished fifth in the recently completed Pimlico meet, has decided to remain in Maryland and ride at Laurel during the current meet.

Rocco usually has been successful at Monmouth but said he was staying in Maryland because his family "loves it here."

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