Weather takes toll as track cancels another live card

January 30, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

The live racing card at Laurel Race Course was canceled yesterday for the third straight Saturday because of unsafe track conditions.

"This is killing us. There is no way we can make up these Saturdays, which are the most lucrative days of the week," said track operator Joe De Francis, who estimated that management and horsemen have collectively lost about $2 million on a total of 10 canceled cards in the past three weeks. During that time, Laurel has been able to conduct five days of simulcasting of full cards from warm-weather tracks, averaging more than $1 million in handle per day. Yesterday, the estimated handle on simulcast races from four tracks amounted to $1,950,000. Management and horsemen each receive about 6 percent of those proceeds, far less than income from live racing.

More than a dozen jockeys and trainers met with track general manager John Mooney and track superintendent John Passero about 7:30 a.m. yesterday to examine the racing strip.

"There is a lot of water on the track and there's no substance [cushion] underneath it," Mooney said. "If the horses ran, they'd run all the way down to the base. In shaded areas there is still ice on the bottom, so it's an uneven surface -- very sloppy and possibly icy in spots."

It is uncertain if live racing will be conducted today. "It depends on how much the temperature drops overnight and what kind of precipitation we get," Mooney said. There is a chance of light snow this afternoon.

Laurel is not alone in its predicament. Philadelphia Park hasn't raced since Jan. 11, although a track spokesman said live racing could resume today.

Aqueduct, which canceled Friday, ran yesterday.

United Tote opens Md. office

United Tote Company, which services more than 140 tracks in 28 states with pari-mutuel equipment, has moved its Eastern customer service office from Newark, Del., to Timonium.

The company will employ about a half-dozen people in its Baltimore-area office.

Chick Lang, former general manager of Pimlico Race Course, will work in industry relations for the company.

United Tote supplies such tracks as Churchill Downs and Keeneland Race Course in Kentucky with pari-mutuel equipment and operates its own track, Sunland Park, in Sunland, New Mexico.

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