Plans are being made to open Virginia's first off-track betting parlor, even though Colonial Downs, the state's first racetrack, has yet to be built and is undergoing what is expected to be a lengthy appeals process.
Arnold Stansley, who is building the track near Richmond in conjunction with the Maryland Jockey Club, submitted an application yesterday to the Virginia Racing Commission, asking the board for approval to open a 15,000-square-foot off-track betting parlor in Hampton.
The prospective facility, located in a shopping center south of Newport News, would be big enough to handle 1,600 fans, according to Stansley's estimates. He projects that the parlor will handle $54 million annually. Half of the track's proceeds will be used to fund purses for the first Colonial Downs race meet.
During its 1995 session, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation allowing Stansley to open as many as six OTBs as long as his track offers live racing within one year.
If Colonial Downs is not open within the 12-month time frame, then the OTB licenses would be rescinded.
Stansley and the commission are fighting a lawsuit filed by Jim Wilson's Virginia Jockey Club, which lost its bid last fall to build a pari-mutuel facility in Northern Virginia. Wilson contends that the commission acted improperly in granting Stansley the license and is trying to block the track from being built. A hearing on the matter is set for May 8 in the Circuit Court of Richmond.
It is unlikely Stansley will move to open the Hampton OTB until he knows more about the outcome of Wilson's appeal.
The commission is expected to discuss procedures governing the licensing of the off-track site at its April 19 meeting.
Mitch Berman, agent for jockey Mario Pino, said that Robert Meyerhoff's 4-year-old colt, Looming, will be scratched from today's $100,000 John B. Campbell Handicap at Pimlico.
Pino was scheduled to ride the horse. Berman said that Looming will race instead in the Jennings Handicap on April 22. The horse's trainer, Dick Small, is headquartered at Oaklawn Park, where he is expected to race Meyerhoff's Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Concern, next weekend in the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap.
With the defection of Looming, a field of nine horses could go to the post in the Campbell. Four of them -- Gotcha Cornered, Owned By Us, Ameri Valay and Bucknell -- are trained by King Leatherbury.
Cooke wins at Pimlico
Jack Kent Cooke might be having a hard time building a football stadium on the grounds at Laurel Park, but it didn't take him long to win a race at Pimlico.
Last Tuesday, Cooke shipped his second string of racehorses, trained by Eddie Kenneally, from New Orleans to Baltimore. His first starter, Too Gold, won in his first try yesterday at Pimlico, drawing off in the seventh race to win by nearly four lengths.
Kenneally said that he has eight Cooke runners stabled at Pimlico. The best is a 3-year-old colt sired by Broad Brush named Broad Act, who might start April 22 in the Grade III Federico Tesio Stakes. Cooke's first string of about a dozen runners is stabled in Kentucky with trainer D. M. "Speedy" Smithwick.
Elkridge-Harford races today
Florida Law, one of the favorites for the April 29 Maryland Hunt Cup, gets his first tuneup of the season today when he races in the Edward S. Voss Memorial Timber Race at the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Point-to-Point in Monkton.
John Bosley rides the horse for the first time.
Race organizer Tom Voss said that hard ground conditions, due to lack of rain this spring, are expected to deplete the entries, although seven races are carded.
Post time for the first race is 1:30 p.m.