Sen. Larry Young (D-Baltimore City) said yesterday that he is meeting next week with Laurel/Pimlico owner Joe De Francis and track lobbyist Alan Rifkin to discuss minorities "becoming major players" in operating off-track betting parlors in Maryland.
So far, three OTBs have been opened in the state and no minority applicant has applied for a license.
Young said that when he heard "through the grapevine" that an OTB parlor was being considered for downtown Baltimore "without minority involvement," he filed a bill in the General Assembly prohibiting an OTB outlet in the city's downtown business district.
However, he told the Senate Finance Committee yesterday that he is delaying the bill and has "re-referred it" to the city's senatorial delegation for further study because of the scheduled talks with De Francis.
De Francis couldn't be reached for comment last night, but other track officials said there are no plans for an OTB parlor downtown. Pimlico Race Course, which is within city limits, is open year-round either for live racing or as a simulcast outlet for televised thoroughbred and harness races.
Young said that he has been watching the OTB licensing process and "much to my chagrin, no minorities are at the table [as operators]."
Young said that even though De Francis has offered no guarantees, "I've been told my concerns are being addressed and we [minorities] can become full players. No attempt is being made to exclude anyone," Young said.
The Maryland Racing Commission requires that each OTB operator file a minority participation report prior to opening.
Two horses die
Two of Maryland's most talented and grittiest stakes performers, Northern Launch and Little Casino, died in separate incidents yesterday at Laurel Race Course.
Northern Launch, a 5-year-old horse who won the Congressional Handicap in his last start on Dec. 26, fractured both ankles in his front legs during a morning workout and was euthanized, according to Clark Cassidy, assistant to Jimmy Murphy, the horse's trainer.
Cassidy said the horse, ridden by exercise rider Tony Aguirre, broke down "about four lengths in front of the three-eighths pole [on the final turn]. Northern Launch, who was owned by Joseph Keelty's Dumbarton Farm, had won six of 18 starts and earned $124,105.
Later in the day, Little Casino, an 8-year-old gelding, died of internal bleeding after rupturing an aorta. The horse collapsed in the paddock, where he was taken to be unsaddled after finishing last in the fourth race.
Little Casino won the Northern Wolf Stakes last year at Laurel. During his career he won 10 of 28 starts and earned $135,456.
Frank Trigeiro, vice president of finance at Laurel/Pimlico, said yesterday that he is quitting his job at the tracks to "pursue other interests."
Trigeiro, 55, had been at Laurel/Pimlico for seven years.