NFL effect forces Laurel to drop Sunday racing

September 09, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Maryland's thoroughbred track operators are tired of competing against NFL games and have decided to drop live racing on Sundays at Laurel Race Course.

Beginning Nov. 7, Sundays will become simulcast-only cards, and Wednesdays, normally dark, will feature live racing.

There will be no decrease in the number of live races offered each week. Live programs will be run from Tuesday through Saturday. Mondays will remain dark.

Jim Mango, senior vice president of pari-mutuels and development at Laurel/Pimlico, said yesterday that the Sunday NFL games affected handle at the tracks by as much as 20 percent.

There will be one simulcast-only Sunday, Oct. 10. The next day, Oct. 11, which is Columbus Day, the track will be open for live racing.

The change was approved yesterday by the Maryland Racing Commission at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting at Timonium.

"The commissioners felt it is worth trying," said Kenneth Schertle, the board's executive director.

Maryland's harness tracks already have adopted a similar schedule. Starting two weeks ago, Rosecroft Raceway ran its last Sunday card on Aug. 29. Delmarva Downs is now closed for the rest of the year. Rosecroft is dark on Sundays and Mondays.

The measure will save the thoroughbred track operators money. Unionized track employees receive overtime wages for Sundays worked.

Also at the meeting, the commission cut the number of days that claimed horses can start to compete out of state from 60 to 30, in a move designed to attract out-of-state stables to Laurel/Pimlico.

Pimlico reopens today

Ritchie Trail is the favorite in the $50,000 My Juliet Stakes today at Pimlico Race Course.

ZTC The track reopens for racing after nearly a two-week break during the recent Maryland State Fair.

The Cambridge off-track betting outlet at the Shoals Restaurant and Quality Inn on the Eastern Shore also opens for its first day of thoroughbred business.

The Shoals parlor opened for harness races about two weeks ago. The nightly betting average on the standardbred races has doubled from $7,500 to about $15,000, according to Shoals owner Greg Burton.

"We will now be running seven tracks a day," Burton said. He added that Pimlico management is offering promotional items such as free Orioles tickets and Pimlico T-shirts and glasses for the first couple of days.

Live racing continues at Pimlico through Oct. 5, then Laurel opens Oct. 7.

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