The Maryland Racing Commission approved yesterday a request by Bally's Maryland Inc., the new owner of Ocean Downs, to operate a 40-day harness meet from July 3 to Sept. 7.
The track near Ocean City will race at 7: 30 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with three exceptions. Those three: Opening week will be Thursday through Sunday, the track will race on Labor Day, and the final week will be Friday through Sunday.
The racing commission also granted the owners permission to simulcast races the rest of the year.
Track president Dennis Dowd said that Bally's Maryland Inc. will spend more than $500,000 on track improvements, such as painting, paving and roofing. Also, he said, the track will offer entertainment, such as concerts, a circus, festivals and fair-like rides and games.
Eric Frederick, a commission member since 1984, said Ocean Downs needs all the improving it can get.
"Nobody's driven a nail down there for six or seven years," said Frederick, who at 87 was taking part in his last commission session. The former Standardbred owner, trainer and driver was not reappointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening.
"I asked to be reappointed," said Frederick, acknowledging that he and the governor seldom, if ever, see eye-to-eye. "I talk too much at times. I guess the governor heard it."
Vince Palumbo, a Prince George's County dentist, will take Frederick's seat at next month's meeting.
Also yesterday, the racing commission approved what was a foregone conclusion: That Pimlico will extend its meet to June 22, and that Laurel Park will race from June 23 to Aug. 22.
The commission delayed action on Ocean Downs' and Rosecroft Raceway's request for authority to negotiate their own contracts for simulcasting. The issue could become explosive as harness and thoroughbred interests fight for their piece of the rich simulcast pie.
Pub Date: 6/12/97