Timonium nearing finish line? Drop in handle alarms officials

September 07, 1993|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Staff Writer

Thoroughbred racing at Timonium is in trouble again after the betting handle for this year's 10-day meet was down $1,245,750 from last year.

"We're in a state of shock," Timonium general manager Howard "Max" Mosner said yesterday in the final hours of this disappointing meet.

"We expected a good meet. We felt people wanted live racing. I just think people have gotten used to not going to live racing [with the advent of simulcast racing]. We're going to take a step back, let the dust settle and make a decision on what to do about it at our November meeting."

According to Mosner, there will be sentiment from some Maryland State Fair board members to end the 10 days of racing at the half-mile facility.

"Hopefully the majority will evaluate the entire situation and decide to continue," said Mosner. "We have to make sure it won't happen again. We're talking about some serious red ink here."

Mosner will petition the state legislature to change the current law to allow the State Fair track to become part of full-card simulcasts, commingled pools and off-track betting.

The present statute stipulates that only mile thoroughbred and harness tracks can participate in those activities.

"I don't see us having any trouble changing the law," said Mosner. "All we have to do is get the word 'mile' removed and we could take the signal from three to four racetracks. Racing has to take a different course."

Mosner said he didn't foresee a major drop-off in the handle as the top problem of the current meet.

"I felt if we ran into trouble, it would be filling the races," he said. "But Georgeanne [Hale, racing secretary] did a great job. I'm pretty proud of all our guys with the job they did."

vTC The serious decline in the handle became very scary as the meet went on, according to Mosner.

"Thank God the fair did very well on Saturday," he said. "It pulled us out of the doldrums. It helped us afford a setback at the races."

F. Grove Miller, president and chairman of the board of the Maryland State Fair, said the board would take a hard look at the future of Timonium racing.

"We're getting all kinds of suggestions on what to do," said Miller. "The governor was here Wednesday and asked us what he could do, but the state has done all it can do. We realized this meet was going to cost us a lot of money after Sunday and Monday [second and third days]. We overpaid way too much on the purses [approximately $50,000]."

Miller said the board knew it would be a "down meet," but "I wouldn't have believed anybody if they told me it would be this much. They talk about the economy being down, but there were a lot of people over on the midway at the fair spending money."

A few bettors said they were getting shut out at the betting windows because of long lines during the busy days of the meet, hurting the handle.

Mosner said: "I've heard that rumor, but I don't think that is the problem. If it's as simple as that, we could handle it."

NOTES: Annette Eubanks yesterday became the first woman trainer to lead a thoroughbred racing meet in Maryland. Eubanks, best known for stakes filly Boxwood, had four winners in six starts when the 10-day meet ended at Timonium. She finished ahead of King Leatherbury, John V. Betts and Clifford Gray Jr., who all had three wins. Alberto Delgado and Walter Cullum shared the top jockey honors with 12 wins each. . . . Oscar Mancilla rode Marine Queen to a win in the last race yesterday, giving him three victories in a day for the first time in his career.

TIMONIUM HANDLES

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Handles for the past 10 years at Timonium:

Year.. .. .. .. ..Handle .. .. .. .. ..Days

1993 .. .. .. ..$5,289,094 .. .. .. .. ..10

1992 .. .. .. ..$6,534,844 .. .. .. .. ..10

1991 .. .. .. ..$6,321,802 .. .. .. .. ..10

1990 .. .. .. ..$5,501,112 .. .. .. .. ..9*

1989 .. .. .. ..$7,125,350 .. .. .. .. ..10

1988 .. .. .. ..$6,385,951 .. .. .. .. ..9*

1987 .. .. .. ..$6,837,973 .. .. .. .. ..10

1986 .. .. .. ..$6,208,767 .. .. .. .. ..10

1985 .. .. .. ..$5,999,070 .. .. .. .. ..10

1984 .. .. .. ..$24,590,066 .. .. .. .. .42

*-Heavy rains reduced meet from 10 days to nine.

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