Timonium draws big Md. names Leatherbury's 'Bidding' in opener HORSE RACING

August 28, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

King Leatherbury said it might seem a little ridiculous.

But the state's leading trainer is running Bidding Up, a horse that last competed in a $27,000 allowance race at Laurel, for a $6,000 purse today in the featured eighth race on the opening card at Timonium.

The horse is expected to be a heavy favorite, although Leatherbury cautioned that an out-of-state invader, Foyt Sparkler, could upset.

Leatherbury is running the horse at Timonium because "my horse is eligible for the [starter allowance] conditions and I don't run the risk of losing him [in a claimer]. It's the kind of move I've criticized other trainers for doing. And look, I'm doing it myself."

Leatherbury is just one of about 40 Maryland-based trainers, including such prominent names as Vinnie Blengs, Jerry Robb, Dean Gaudet, Barclay Tagg and John Salzman, who are supporting the half-mile meet by entering their horses on today's opening card.

Robb, last year's top trainer, is back to defend his title. He entered four runners.

Almost every race drew a full field and many of Pimlico/Laurel's top jockeys -- including Mario Pino, Clarence "Jo Jo" Ladner, Stewart Elliott, Albert Delgado and apprentice Austreberto Salazar -- will ride at the meet. Last year's leader, Freddy Castillo, is back and is being joined by Wayne Barnett, the leading rider at Charles Town.

Racing secretary Georgeanne Hale said she is gratified by the response of the local horsemen. It hasn't always been so. A couple of years ago, the track washed out, several horses were injured or destroyed and there was quite a bit of talk about ending the meet.

But Howard M. "Max" Mosner Jr., the track's general manager, said the racing surface is in good shape. "John Passero [superintendent at Pimlico/Laurel] has walked it. He's offered to do anything he can to help us. And that goes for just about everybody at Pimlico and Laurel."

Last year during the state fair meet, Timonium posted a 3.3 percent business gain over the previous year.

Simulcasts Help Pimlico

When Pimlico completed the first 18 days of its 38-day summer and early fall meet yesterday, gross handle showed a 25 percent increase, attributable to the popularity of full-card simulcasts from Saratoga, Arlington Park and Del Mar.

That's the good news. The bad news is that betting on Pimlico's live races dropped during the 18 days. When the multiple signals were first introduced a couple of months ago, about 60 percent of the handle was bet on the Maryland live card and 40 percent on the out-of-state simulcasts.

But during the last 18 days, the ratio has shifted to 54 percent live, 46 percent simulcasts.

"But don't push the panic button," said track operator Joe De Francis. "It's due to the fans' interest in Saratoga and Del Mar." He predicts that betting on live races will dominate when the Pimlico meet resumes on Sept. 9 for 20 days.

Saratoga will be over and will be replaced by Belmont Park. Del Mar will end on Sept. 15 and will not be replaced because that that's when California begins its fair circuit.

For the first 18 days of the meet, Edgar Prado leads the jockey standings and John Alecci and Dale Capuano are tied for the lead in the trainer's race.

During the Timonium meet, Prado is serving a seven-day suspension handed down to him last year by the stewards at The Meadowlands.

NOTES: Maryland's horse-breeding business is receiving a boost. Prominent owner Richard S. Evans, who raced $1 million earner Sewickley, is moving the horse from Florida to stand at stud at Bonita Farm in Darlington. Evans is buying a 400-acre farm on the Eastern Shore and plans to move his broodmare band there. . . . Bill Miller calls it "Team Virginia." The executive vice president of the Virginia Racing Associates announced Thursday that he has signed a deal with the city of Portsmouth to build a $50 million thoroughbred/harness racetrack with help from the municipal government. Miller said he has obtained exclusive rights to lease with an option to buy a 260-acre site within city limits to build the track. It is one of three sites that the Maryland Jockey Club has shown an interest in as a location for its proposed Virginia track. But the VRA announcement apparently eliminates Maryland from competing for that location.

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