De Francis: No one wins in simulcast impasse He urges groups to agree on binding arbitration

November 16, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The loss of the state's crossbreed simulcasting network will have severely damaging ramifications for all parties involved, Maryland Jockey Club president Joe De Francis said yesterday.

"That's why we recommended binding arbitration. This has to be resolved quickly and we'll be happy to live with whatever decision a neutral arbitrator makes," De Francis said.

De Francis maintained that Laurel Park/Pimlico management is the only party "willing to give up money" in the situation after the "facilities use" agreement expired last night without a settlement.

The impasse ended daytime harness simulcasting at the thoroughbred tracks and nighttime thoroughbred simulcasting at Rosecroft Raceway. The state's off-track betting parlors were affected, because without thoroughbreds at night, they will have a difficult time remaining open.

"I'm concerned that we'll lose export markets for our Maryland races [to night tracks out of state]," De Francis said. "And I'm concerned that the $11 million aid package from the state next year is in jeopardy. If that goes down, it would be a real tragedy."

He is hopeful that Rosecroft, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and his own group can agree to the arbitration this week.

The thoroughbred horsemen are balking at the contributions they make necessary to operate the network. "That was very discouraging," De Francis said.

And Rosecroft is insisting on a 70-30 split of night thoroughbred simulcasting revenue with the majority going to the Standardbred interests.

De Francis' tracks already were hurt financially last year when Bally's Inc., which bought Ocean Downs, stopped taking day thoroughbred racing.

"We as an industry have an obligation to our customers," De Francis said. "If we don't settle this, we're not going to have an industry. This is a bad situation for everybody.

"If we go weeks without resolving this, many thousands of dollars every day will be shot. We cannot afford to sustain those kinds of losses for more than a matter of days."

Weather Vane wins

To the naked eye, it appeared that Edgar Prado had guided the rallying Palette Knife up just in time to win the $73,275 Stefanita Stakes yesterday at Laurel.

But the photo didn't lie.

Weather Vane, with red-hot Mario Pino up, lasted by an eyelash to capture her 11th of 21 lifetime starts and raise her career bankroll above $390,000.

"We just got lucky at the end," said Pino, who scored three victories on the card. Trainer Richard Delp said: "I would have settled for a dead heat."

Heavy favorite Secret Prospect never challenged and finished a badly beaten fifth in the seven-furlong test for older fillies and mares.

"I thought there was going to be more speed," said Pino, who took Weather Vane to the lead after an alert break. "She broke sharp, showed more speed and hung in gamely. I would have been proud of her even if she had lost."

The final head bob was kind to the 3-year-old filly, who has won nine of 13 starts this year.

'Glory' seeks bonus

Lonesome Glory will be going for a $250,000 bonus when he leads a field of 10 in the 28th Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C., today. The Eclipse Award for 1997 steeplechase champion also could be on the line in the 2 3/4 -mile race over jumps.

As winner of the Carolina Cup last spring, Lonesome Glory is the only horse eligible for the bonus from sponsoring NationsBank. Blythe Miller will ride for her father, trainer Bruce Miller.

Lonesome Glory is a three-time Eclipse Award winner as the leading jumper.

The chief opposition is expected to be Rowdy Irishman, winner of the $320,000 Breeders' Cup Grand National in New Jersey last month.

In honor of Arcaro

The Laurel jockey colony paid tribute to Eddie Arcaro with a ceremony in the winner's circle before yesterday's card. A bouquet of roses, black-eyed Susans and carnations was placed at the finish line to honor the man who won 4,779 races and was the only jockey to win two Triple Crowns (Whirlaway and Citation). Arcaro died Friday of liver cancer in Miami at the age of 81.

Pub Date: 11/16/97

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