Betting figures take sting out of winter's rough ride

March 28, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

After 13 weather-related cancellations and a recent audit that showed the Maryland mile thoroughbred tracks posted record-breaking losses in 1993, the 52-day live racing meet at Laurel Race Course ended yesterday on a positive note.

Betting figures for the first quarter of 1994 showed that total wagering increased 39 percent over a similar period last year and average daily handle on live racing days climbed 24.4 percent.

The reason for the turnaround -- which began during the last half of 1993 -- is the addition of multiple signal simulcasting, the opening of six more off-track and inter-track betting outlets and simulcast-only cards presented on Wednesdays.

During the first quarter of 1993, when there were 54 days of betting only on live Maryland racing at Laurel and one inter-track location at Pimlico, total wagering amounted to $75,490,926 for a daily average of $1,397,980.

During the first quarter of 1994, when there were 52 live racing days, $90,437,988 was wagered on a mixture of live and simulcast races at Laurel, three inter-track facilities and four OTB parlors. The average daily wagering amount climbed to $1,739,192.

An additional $14.5 million was wagered this year on 16 simulcast-only cards, bringing the total amount wagered in Maryland to $104,998,111 for the first three months.

If this trend continues, Laurel/Pimlico could be on its way to topping a $435,874,022 annual record set in 1990.

When the out-of-state simulcasts were added during the last half of 1993, the ratio between the live and simulcast races was 60 percent live-40 percent simulcasts. The simulcasts picked up in popularity during the winter of 1994 when the ratio became 50-50.

During the first three months of 1994, Maryland's live product declined when about 300 of the state's best horses shipped out to warm-weather tracks and training centers in Florida, Arkansas, California and South Carolina. Most of those horses are scheduled to return next month. Live product was also affected by harsh weather conditions during the winter that interrupted training at the local tracks and caused the cancellations.

During the first quarter of the year, King Leatherbury and Larry Reynolds led the trainer and jockey standings, respectively.

On closing day at Laurel yesterday, Carlos Garcia saddled his fourth 1994 stakes winner when Brilliant Prospect, owned by the Helmore General Racing Partnership, defeated Cherokee Wonder in the $30,000-added Wide Country Stakes.

The 3-year-old filly, purchased for $22,000 out of the Fasig-Tipton Two Year-Old in Training Sale last year at Timonium, was ridden by Allen Stacy.

Leaders in the stakes categories so far in Maryland this year are Robert Meyerhoff, owner; Dick Small, trainer, and Reynolds and Stacy, jockeys who have each ridden four stakes winners.

'94 MD. STAKES LEADERS

The leaders one quarter of the way through 1994 after the 52-day live racing meet ended at Laurel Race Course. There were 27 stakes (three graded) carded.

HORSES Graded stakes winners * Blushing Julian (Gr. II: General George S.)

* Broad Gains (Gr. III: Snow Goose Handicap)

* Mixed Appeal (Gr. II: Barbara Fritchie Handicap)

Stakes wins (2 each) * Asserche

* Broad Gains

* Looming

* Run Alden

JOCKEYS * Larry Reynolds (4 wins)

* Allen Stacy (4)

* Mario Pino (3)

* Rick Wilson (3)

* Bob Colton (2)

* Mark Johnston (2)

* Clarence Ladner (2)

* Austreberto Salazar (2)

* Andrea Seefeldt (2)

TRAINERS * Dick Small (5 wins)

* Carlos Garcia (4)

* John Alecci (2)

* Ned Allard (2)

* Dean Gaudet (2)

* King Leatherbury (2)

* Jerry Robb (2)

OWNERS * Robert Meyerhoff (5 wins)

* John Alecci (2)

* Gilbert Campbell (2)

* Hal C.B. Clagett (2)

* Israel Cohen (2)

* Helmore Farm Partnerships (2)

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