Maryland comes up a winner Electronic racing pays off with 14% betting increase

August 02, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Maryland's move into the age of electronic racing seems to be paying off.

Laurel/Pimlico management reported a gross betting increase of 14.1 percent at the close yesterday of the 40-day Laurel summer meet, which will probably result in about an 8 percent net gain after simulcasting expenses are deducted.

Attendance during the time period was off 3.3 percent from a year ago, but admissions are not counted at the state's two off-track betting parlors, where there is no admittance charge.

It is the first time in three years, since the close of the 1990 Pimlico spring meet, that a meet at a Maryland thoroughbred track has shown a betting increase.

Compared to the first four months of the year when business was off about 12 percent or a total of $24 million on just live-racing cards and selected stakes simulcasts, the increase represents a dramatic turnaround.

The business statistics posted at the close of yesterday's meet are the first time that all the elements of new wagering programs -- including full-card simulcasts from out-of-state tracks, the opening of two off-track betting parlors plus two additional inter-track outlets at Rosecroft and Delmarva Downs -- could be tallied at one full meet and then compared with a similar time frame a year ago.

During the 40-day period a total of $64,528,162 was bet at the state's six wagering outlets on the full component of in- and out-of-state thoroughbred races. About 38 percent of that total, or $24,842,213, was bet on simulcasts from tracks in New York, New Jersey, California, Kentucky and Illinois.

An additional $10,804,839 was bet on the Maryland races at out-of-state betting outlets, a 37 percent increase from last year, said Jim Mango, Laurel/Pimlico's senior vice president of mutuels and development.

"It's tough to tell what the overall financial impact of these new programs are. So many things have to be accounted for, such as the operating costs of the OTBs," Mango said. "These thing have to be looked at over time. But right now, I'd say things are going well and should only get stronger. One thing is obvious: There is no question that if we didn't take the out-of-state simulcasts, we'd be in big trouble."

Not included in the figures is the $1.6 million that has been bet on out-of-state simulcasts on the last three Wednesdays, when there is no live racing.

Pimlico opens tomorrow

Live racing moves to Pimlico tomorrow for two abbreviated meets. The summer portion runs through Aug. 27. Racing then switches to the Maryland State Fair at Timonium for 10 days. Pimlico reopens for its fall meet Sept. 9.

Reynolds, Pescagani triumph at Laurel

Larry Reynolds swept both weekend Laurel stakes, taking the Broad Brush Handicap on Saturday with Frottage and the Sir Ivor Stakes yesterday with Pescagani.

It capped Reynolds' most successful meet in Maryland since he moved his tack from Charles Town in February 1992.

Reynolds, 23, led the jockey standings, his first riding title in Maryland, and also posted the highest winning percentage (.19), riding 45 winners from 231 mounts.

Pescagani (pronounced Pes-ca-johnny) is a 3-year-old son of Caveat and was purchased by owner Vince Drecchia as a yearling at the Timonium sales for $8,500. The horse is trained by Paul Seefeldt.

Miscellaneous

Sunny Sunrise is on his way back to Maryland from Omaha, Neb. But he is being stabled at a local farm for several days until it's determined whether he is carrying a viral strain that has plagued some Midwestern tracks. The $1 million earner was exposed to the virus when he was shipped to Ak-Sar-Ben last week for a stakes engagement. . . . There were six claims in for Peruse yesterday when trainer King Leatherbury dropped the stakes-placed mare in for a $6,500 claiming tag. Peruse won the race. Richard Hoffberger won the shake for the mare and is now her new owner. . . . Leatherbury and Dale Capuano each saddled 22 winners at the meet and tied for the leading trainers' title.

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