Pimlico could be in a fix this winter

October 02, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland Million fans attending the races at Laurel couldn't help but notice the face lift given to the cavernous old plant. While Laurel is not yet the second coming of Keeneland, the renovations are, at least, a start.

The next question: What's in store for Pimlico?

It could be that the Baltimore track's old barn area finally will come tumbling down. The word from management is that no plans have been finalized, but there are some options.

Nothing can really be done to spruce up the place until the old wooden barn area on the Hayward Avenue side of the track is totally rebuilt or demolished. As it stands, it is just too much of an eyesore.

The ideal time to move on the project could be immediately, if and when the track is shut down for training this winter.

The stables, except for the Preakness Barn, could be renovated or bulldozed.

For years plans have been kicked around to level the old barn area, re-landscape it, add parking and bust through the grandstand wall where the existing indoor paddock stands and create a new outdoor paddock in the current valet parking lot.

"There are some major structural problems involved with that idea," track president Joe De Francis said of relocating the paddock. "But it's a possibility."

The current indoor paddock is the bane of just about every horsemen's existence. Now might be the time to finally move on these projects and then proceed with other overdue renovations, such as re-siding the grandstand so it doesn't look like a penitentiary.

But first things first.

Track officials John Mooney and Lenny Hale still are going over stall applications and haven't decided yet if Pimlico will be closed for the winter.

Owners match Ryan's gift

Last year Ryehill Farm owner Jim Ryan announced that he would donate the $55,000 won by his horse, Awad, in the Maryland Million Turf to a backstretch dormitory project, if other owners came forward and matched his gift.

They did.

A total of $110,000 is sitting in an escrow account waiting until the new dorms are built, said retired jockey Gregg McCarron, who helped Ryan solicit the money.

The dorms will be constructed after a final decision is made on whether the Washington Redskins will build a stadium at Laurel. In the process, a new stable area is scheduled to be constructed.

McCarron said 10 to 20 owners donated part of their 1993 Maryland Million purse winnings to the project.

"Most wanted something in writing guaranteeing what the money would be used for," McCarron said. "Once we did that, the owners warmed up to the idea and the response was really good."

McCarron said that one owner, Virginia horsewoman Sharon Maloney, has donated 1 percent of her horses' 1994 earnings to the fund. Among Maloney's runners are stakes-placed May Maloy and 1994 Maryland Million entrant Sandman Sims.

Awad, who was named champion Maryland-bred turf runner last year, injured a knee this year and missed the Million.

Laurel's last horse auction?

When the Horsemen's Bloodstock Services auctioneering firm held its second annual yearling sale at Laurel Race Course last Monday night, the company had no way of knowing that halfway through the venue the track would be hit with a ferocious thunderstorm, accompanied by a shower of hail.

The young horses and their handlers were pelted by hail as they were led down to the racetrack from the barn area to the sales ring in the paddock.

The resulting scene looked like a remake of "The Day of the Locusts."

Horses were loose on the track, people were screaming and the auction was postponed for at least a half-hour until the storm subsided. Many potential buyers scurried home.

Said yearling consignor Hal C. B. Clagett: "The lightning flashed. The thunder roared. The rain came down. And the wind blew all of the money out of the sales arena."

Clagett sold the sales topper, a $50,000 half-brother to his 1992 Maryland Million winner, Carnirainbow, to the sales company proprietor, Jeanne Vance.

But Clagett ended up selling only three of his 11 yearlings, hauling eight of them back home after they failed to reach their reserve bids. About 40 percent of the 156 yearlings offered failed to be sold.

Clagett ended up getting to bed about 5:30 a.m. the next day.

By the end of the week, he was still feeling repercussions. During the storm, his top-selling yearling had reared, struck his handler's arm and broke it. "I just got him out of the hospital," Clagett said on Friday.

Chances are the company will be holding its future auctions at the Timonium Fairgrounds, which offers more suitable all-weather facilities.

Two Grade I winners?

When D. Wayne Lukas-trained Flanders tested positive for a prohibited drug, isoxsuprine, after winning the Grade I Matron Stakes on Sept. 17 at Belmont Park, runner-up Stormy Blues, owned by Harriet and David Finkelstein of Pikesville, was awarded first-place prize money of $64,740.

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