Fairgoers might see a racetrack with an entirely new look when racing returns to Timonium next year for the annual 10-day meet.
Encouraged by the track's initial foray into simulcasting, the general manager at Timonium Race Course said yesterday that he hopes the Maryland State Fair facility can be open as a full-scale, year-round off-track betting outlet by Preakness Day 1995.
"That might be a little ambitious, depending on what kind of facility we develop," said Howard "Max" Mosner Jr., the track's executive vice president and general manager. "But we're anxious to get the ball rolling. Let's say we're going to be knocking on Joe De Francis' door very shortly. The sooner we get the planning started, the sooner we open."
What Mosner envisions is building a two-story Sports Palace-type edifice adjoining the existing open-air grandstand or opting for a less ambitious project such as renovating the second floor of the grandstand.
"But this is something we don't want to rush," Mosner said. "It's going to be done right and it's got to be nice."
A new OTB parlor at the Timonium site would cater to the affluent Towson-Cockeysville-northern Baltimore County area and operate nearly year-round, except when there is live racing at Pimlico.
An exception would be Preakness Day when all the room is needed to accommodate the crowds for Maryland's biggest sporting event.
Since Timonium is within 35 miles of an existing racetrack (Pimlico), it must operate with permission from that track, which is why a partnership with Pimlico/Laurel owners would be struck.
Mosner said a new state-of-the-art OTB parlor in Chambersburg, Pa., which is part of that state's off-track betting network, could be used as a model for the Timonium outlet.
When the State Fair meet offered strictly live racing last year, the meet ended with a nearly 20 percent betting decrease and a bleak future was forecast for the half-mile oval.
However, Timonium tied into Pimlico/Laurel's eight-site OTB network this year, offering both its live card and simulcasting from several out-of-state tracks. While on-track handle fell from $528,000 in 1993 to $314,606 during the 10-day meet completed yesterday, the network-wide daily average, including the simulcasts, exceeded an estimated $1.5 million, about 50 percent above projections.
The meet closed yesterday with its best card. A total of $467,405 was bet on-track at Timonium, $916,561 was bet on Timonium races statewide, and more than an estimated $2 million was wagered, including simulcasts.
Albert Delgado rode four winners on the final card to wrest the jockeys' title from Freddy Castillo, who had led until yesterday's program. Delgado rode 15 winners. Castillo had 11.
The closing day feature, a $12,000 allowance race for fillies and mares, was won by jockey Kenny McMillan, who rallied from last place with Foulis Alicia, the longest shot in the short four-horse field.
The small field was typical for the Timonium meet, which experienced a shortage of horses. Mosner said fewer cheap horses shipped in from out-of-state half-mile tracks this year to beef up the cards. One reason cited was the $200 licensing and insurance fee that owners and trainers have to pay to be licensed. It is considered too high for many small-time outfits.
Bowie-based Jerry Robb was Timonium's leading trainer, saddling six winners, including a pair of 2-year-old first-time starters for Hal C.B. Clagett.
One of those 2-year-olds, Citirainbow, a half-sister to Clagett's Maryland-bred champion filly Carnirainbow, is expected to run when Pimlico reopens on Thursday.
Robb, who deplores purse cuts being proposed for the Laurel meet which starts Sept. 27, said he enjoys running at Timonium. "The way things are going at Pimlico and Laurel, purses are going to be higher at Timonium next year, anyway," he said.
NOTES: Maryland-based 3-year-olds didn't fare so well yesterday in out-of-town stakes. Looming finished sixth, beaten eight lengths, in the Jerome Handicap at Belmont Park. Brass Scale and Richie The Coach were fourth and fifth respectively, in the Pennsylvania Derby . . . . Winning numbers in yesterday's National Best Seven were 3-6-6-7-1A-2-1. There were 111 7-of-7 tickets, each paying $1,128.50. There were 3,504 winning 6-of-7 consolation tickets, which paid $17 each . . . . Baltimore steeplechase jockey Colvin "Greg" Ryan, who was seriously injured in a spill at the Marlboro races last spring, was at Timonium yesterday and could be back exercising horses this fall. He hopes to resume riding in races next spring despite a severe back fracture that nearly paralyzed him.