Timonium won't add days in '96

September 10, 1995|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Timonium Race Course finished its 10-day meet last week with a modest boost in overall handle and about a $100,000 surplus in purses.

But don't expect the half-mile oval to add more days to its 1996 schedule despite a proposed summer shutdown that could last from three to six weeks next year at Pimlico.

"That's just not going to happen under present circumstances," said Howard M. "Max" Mosner Jr., Timonium's general manager.

"I don't want to speak for our board, but clearly I don't see it as a viable option under present circumstances. For one thing, we couldn't afford to do it. For another, we wouldn't do anything that's detrimental to Joe De Francis.

"People don't realize that without the cooperation and encouragement of Joe, who stepped in two years ago and plugged us into the mile-track [betting] network, we'd be out of business. So we are not going to do anything that's harmful to him.

"Under the right circumstances, we could increase our days, but the main change in thinking would have to come from Joe De Francis, and I don't see that happening."

In 1993, before Timonium joined Pimlico/Laurel's off-track and inter-track live betting and full-card simulcasting network, the track lost between $600,000 and $800,000, Mosner said.

"We clearly couldn't continue racing that way," he said. "Now, after benefiting from the network, our [racing] losses are down to about $200,000. That's acceptable when you crank it into the overall business of the [Maryland State] fair."

De Francis told a meeting of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association last week that shutting down at Pimlico, but running longer at Timonium, would defeat the purpose of closing at all.

"What we need is less live racing at our weakest time of year [August and September] so we can strengthen our purse structure in the spring, when interest in racing is at its highest," De Francis said.

"We do that by using simulcasting revenues during the period we're shut down to boost purses the rest of the year."

Overall betting during the 10-day Timonium meet amounted to $15,484,417, a $139,304 increase from 1994.

The majority of the increase -- about $137,000 -- occurred from on-track betting on Timonium's live card.

"For our own operation, that's a good sign," Mosner said.

Much of that success Mosner attributes to racing secretary Georgeanne Hale, who was able to card larger fields -- averaging horses per race -- because purses almost doubled after Pimlico/Laurel added the half-mile track to its betting network in 1994.

"Next year, we'll be able to offer even larger purses," Mosner said.

'Scam' trial set

Trials for three of the four principals in a 1991 Laurel betting scam have been set for Oct. 30 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

At that time, Judge William Nickerson is expected to preside over the trials of Michael Downing; his brother William Downing; and John Dinos, who allegedly were involved in manipulating the odds on three first-time starters after obtaining false workouts for them at Delaware Park.

The three men were arraigned in Baltimore on Sept. 1.

Frank Lussier, the fourth man implicated in the alleged scheme and the owner of record of at least one of the horses, was arraigned on Friday, but no trial date has been set. All four men have pleaded not guilty.

Delaware slots delayed again

For the third time, Delaware Park has postponed the opening of its slot machine emporium in the track's grandstand in Stanton, Del.

The slots facility, at a projected cost of about $10 million, was first set to open in August, then Sept. 29, now Nov. 10 or 11.

Failure by the state to promulgate necessary rules and regulations has been given as the reason for the continued postponements.

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