3-track program price to rise by 50 cents

June 09, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

The Maryland Racing Commission yesterday approved an increase in the price of programs at Pimlico and Laurel during its regular monthly meeting.

Tim Capps, vice president-director of communications for the Maryland Jockey Club, said only the price for a three-track program will be affected. The cost of the program for the Maryland live card and two out-of-state tracks running concurrently (depending on the simulcast schedule) will rise 50 cents to $2.

All other costs for the bettors will remain intact with a two-signal program staying at $1.50 and a single-signal program going for $1.

"This ought not to be a big deal," said Capps. "But it will become an issue with some [patrons]."

Capps and Martin Jacobs, the tracks' vice president-chief general counsel, testified that overages [unsold programs] and higher printing costs have necessitated the price increase.

"What has changed radically is that we have a much larger program with a great deal more in it that costs significantly more money to produce," said Jacobs. "We no longer can print it in-house because we don't have the equipment. And generally there is a 15-percent overage because it is impossible to predict the final number of programs that will actually be sold that day."

Because of the more detailed information contained in the program -- including past performances supplied by Equibase, Inc. -- the average fan has less need for The Daily Racing Form, Jacobs said.

"We've extended the current cost longer than we hoped," he said. "We're losing money on the program. And our program changes every single day, unlike other forms of entertainment (i.e., major-league baseball)."

After a brief discussion, during which commissioner Jack Mosner noted that Philadelphia Park charges $1.50 per track for programs, the measure passed without much argument.

Mosner asked the track management to explore ways to make programs more convenient to latecomers to the track and the possibility of combining parking, admissions and the program into one price.

NOTES: The commission approved a cutoff time of 10 minutes before harness races in which to claim a horse, thus conforming with the thoroughbred regulation. . . . The stakes schedule for Pimlico's summer meeting (which begins July 26) and Laurel's request for its coming meeting (30 days of live racing and six simulcast-only days starting June 14) were approved. . . . Jim Peterson, the tracks' new chief financial officer, told the commission that the tracks' economic health has improved dramatically after a $7.3 million loss last year. He said they are on course to turn a profit in 1994.

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