Va. panel loosens reigns, gives public access HORSE RACING

September 19, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

No one should be able to accuse the Virginia Racing Commission of operating behind closed doors over the next six months while it decides what lucky party will be allowed to build and operate the Old Dominion's first pari-mutuel racetrack.

The process promises to be something of a public spectacle.

The board's executive director, Don Price, said that as soon as licensing applications are received (on Oct. 1), they will immediately be made available for public scrutiny.

The commission is currently a kind of mom-and-pop operation. The offices are located in a renovated train station in downtown Richmond. The office has no secretary.

It is staffed by Price and the board's policy analyst, Bill Anderson, a former Michigan sportswriter.

When the applications are received, Price and Anderson will place them in a conference room along with a copying machine.

Any interested party, member of the press, horse trainer or fan will be given unlimited access.

The board will start evaluating the applications, some of which may be lengthy, as soon as they are received and then will accept amendments until Jan. 3.

In mid-February, commission chairman John Shenefield plans to hold two consecutive days of public hearings where all the applicants can be questioned and cross examined about every aspect of their proposals.

Then the board could make its decision by early spring and construction might start as soon as next summer.

The New Kent County site planned by the Maryland Jockey Club is located about 20 miles east of Richmond on Route 64, a 3 1/2 -hour drive from Baltimore. There's not much to look at there now except a vast hardwood forest sitting on a plateau. A sign adjacent to the woods indicates that Ed Allen's

Chickahominy Recreational Vehicle Park is only 3 miles away. The nearest town is called Providence Forge.

Pimlico/Laurel track operator Joe De Francis is considering holding two press conferences -- one at Pimlico, the other in Richmond -- on Oct. 1 to discuss his proposed track.

It promises to be just the beginning of Project Pimlico South.

TRA meets in Canada

The quarterly meeting of the board of directors of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations in Toronto this week could be a lively affair.

It better be.

Now that the TRA tracks have given the heave-ho to the American Championship Racing Series, they are on the spot to come up with a worthy replacement.

On the TRA agenda: instituting a national wager (such as last year's National Pick-Six), formulating a national television package and deciding whether or not to institute a national office and hire a so-called racing czar.

"We've been talking about these things since April. Now it's time to move on them," said De Francis, a TRA director.

For sale: Sure fire winner

Want to buy a racehorse?

How about looking for one in the classified-ad section of the Sunday newspaper? That's exactly how trainer Jimmy Young, and his wife, owner Ruby Charlene, purchased their allowance winning gelding, Shuffle Off.

Young, a steeplechase rider in his youth, is a retired truck driver and his wife is a retired school teacher. They live in Alexandria, Va.

"My wife decided I needed something to do other than collecting Social Security, so we bought this horse," Young said. He trains the animal himself at the Bowie Training Center, but at age 65, hires someone else to exercise him in the mornings.

The Youngs purchased Shuffle Off for $3,000 after seeing him advertised in the classifieds.

So far the horse has won three races and over $25,000 for the couple. On Thursday he vied for the lead in Pimlico's $22,000 feature, but finished fifth.

Still he earned $660, enough to pay the jockey and a month's worth of oats.

Amazing Jeanie K.

The mare Jeanie K. wasn't much of a racehorse. In eight career starts she only won two races and earned $5,828.

But owner David Lentz of Westminster liked something about her.

She was claimed away from him for $4,000, but he bought her back for $2,000 after she broke down and bred her.

Her mate of choice?

A grandson of Native Dancer named Eager Native.

For seven consecutive years Lentz bred Jeanie K. to Eager Native and has come up with five winners, who have collectively won 21 races and earned more than $225,000.

Lentz boards Jeanie K. at the Westminster farm of Chris and Bob Kohl, who have foaled and raised all of her offspring.

Her latest winner is Crafty Tarheel, who won a maiden allowance race at Pimlico by nearly six lengths last week.

Other Jeanie K. winners: Mountaineer Miller, Eager N Crafty, Crafty N Eager and Eager Ecdysiast.

Unfortunately, Lentz said, Eager Native is not as fertile as he used to be. Jeanie K. is now bred exclusively to Jane's Dilemma.


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