Simulcasting nets healthy surplus

September 25, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Timonium Race Course vice president and general manager Howard M. "Max" Mosner Jr. remembers looking at the opening day crowd at the Maryland State Fair meet last month and saying to himself, "We're in trouble. No one's here."

"But I told that to Jim Mango [pari-mutuels vice president at Pimlico/Laurel] and he said, 'It doesn't matter. We've hit a home run.' And that's exactly what happened," Mosner said.

After tying into the state's off-track betting and simulcast network for the first time, Mosner said a general accounting of the Timonium figures last week revealed not only that the 10-day meet generated a $100,000 to $125,000 surplus in purses, but also a total handle of $15.3 million, or "over 50 percent more than we hoped for."

Some of the statistics quoted by Mosner included:

* Purse money generated at the meet exceeded $1.1 million, compared to $456,000 in 1993.

* After $540,000 was paid out in purses this year, a $225,000 purse overpayment from 1993 was paid off, and another $200,000 reverted to the Maryland-bred fund, leaving a surplus of between $100,000 and $125,000.

* Going into the meet, Timonium hoped for a $4 million on-track handle and off-track handle of $6 million. The final totals showed $3.3 million bet on track, $12 million off track.

* Timonium's share of the off-track revenue amounted to about ** $400,000, with Laurel/Pimlico receiving the same amount. The arrangement was made possible by cooperation with the Maryland mile tracks, which operated the statewide network from its hub at Laurel.

"What happened is that this year's meet entirely turned our racing picture around," Mosner said. "Last year after we lost 20 percent on track handle with no simulcasting, we said, 'One more year like this and we're out of business.' So, naturally, we're elated.' "

Mosner said he is talking with representatives of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association about what to do with the purse surplus. "All kinds of things are possible, from paying a bonus to contributing the money to next year's purse account. It's a nice problem to have," he said.

Mosner added that he and Fair president F. Grove Miller are starting talks with Pimlico/Laurel president Joe De Francis this week about converting Timonium into a year-round off-track betting outlet.

The Kesslers' 'magic' mare

When Elliot and Lucy Kessler of Mount Airy attended the Timonium sales five years ago, they were attracted to a well-bred racing filly named Shitake.

But the couple didn't think they could afford her.

To their surprise, Shitake, a granddaughter of ace racemare Princess Pout who had also produced champion European racehorse Alleged, brought only $2,300. "So we put a bid in and took her home," Kessler recalled.

The Kesslers mated the mare to Two Punch and sold the resulting foal for $16,000 as a yearling. After taking 19 races to break his maiden, the horse turned out to be Grade I winner Taking Risks, the heavy favorite to win the Maryland Million Classic next Saturday.

Since then, Shitake has produced two more foals for the Kesslers, including Shiviat, a 3-year-old daughter of Caveat, and a colt sired by Opening Verse, that brought $45,000 at the recent Keeneland (Ky.) Fall Yearling Sale.

However, the Kesslers thought the $45,000 bid was too low and kept the colt, which has been sent to Florida to be broken and which they will race next year.

Shitake, now 11 years old, is in foal to Broad Brush.

After spending 15 years in the horse business and experiencing its highs and lows, Elliot Kessler said that "you don't expect things like this to happen." But he said breeding a horse like the Maryland Million Classic favorite "has been quite a thrill."

How do he and his wife sum up their horse industry experience?

Silly question.

-! "Taking risks," Kessler said.

Md. Million stallion count

For fans, the Maryland Million is about picking winners.

For breeders, it's all about stallions and which horse will produce the most winners.

So far the four leading stallions after eight Maryland Millions are Caveat, Deputy Minister, Horatius and Rollicking, whose offspring have won five Maryland Million races.

Caveat stands at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City. Deputy Minister has left the state and stands at Brookdale Farm in Versailles, Ky. Horatius is at Thornmar Farm in Chestertown and Rollicking is dead.

This year, Caveat has 10 sons and daughters entered on the Maryland Million card, the most of any stallion, followed by Allen's Prospect and Waquoit, who have nine offspring entered.

Among freshman sires, who are represented by their first crops in the 2-year-old stakes, it's a race between Norquestor, Citidancer, King's Nest and Northern Wolf.

Norquestor has four 2-year-old entries, followed by three for Citidancer, two for King's Nest and one for Northern Wolf.

The farms represented are Murmur Farm, Darlington (Norquestor); Country Life Farm, Bel Air (Citidancer); Glade Valley Farm, Frederick (King's Nest) and Corbett Farm, Monkton (Northern Wolf).

Miscellaneous

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