In Kentucky, Goodwin puts racing career on ice

ON HORSE RACING

January 04, 1998|By Tom Keyser and Kent Baker | Tom Keyser and Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

When Kim Goodwin moved back to Kentucky, she vowed to give her life with horses a rest. After eight years as a racing analyst at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park -- and, for four weeks, at Colonial Downs -- she said she needed a break.

So she got a TV job covering sports -- but not horse racing -- for the CBS affiliate in Lexington.

"I've gone from thoroughbreds to Thoroughblades," Goodwin said.

The Thoroughblades are Lexington's team in the American Hockey League.

Goodwin resigned from her job with the Maryland Jockey Club in late September during the Colonial Downs meet in Virginia. When racing returned to Laurel in October, Goodwin didn't return with it. She came back once -- to attend the Maryland Million Gala and broadcast the Maryland Million races on the Fox TV network.

"It really overwhelmed me when I came back," Goodwin said Friday from Lexington. "The genuine outpouring of feeling I got from people -- from trainers to people I saw there every day -- that made everything worthwhile. That was the ultimate thanks I could get."

She said she misses people and horses, but not the job.

"I definitely needed a break," she said. "When you do the same thing day in and day out, every weekend, every holiday, it takes a toll on your personal life. I reached the point where I had to figure out what I wanted to do. And one thing I wanted to do was come back here."

Goodwin was born and raised in Kentucky. Since she has been back, she said, she has been to Keeneland only once, and not at all to Churchill Downs. But she has begun making inquiries about jobs in the industry, though not at a racetrack.

Meanwhile, she works as a free-lance reporter for a TV station.

"Tell everybody I'm fine," Goodwin said. "I'm just happy to be back home in Kentucky."

Md. betting up in '97

Despite the six-week absence of racing during Colonial Downs' inaugural meet, betting figures for 1997 released last week by the Maryland Jockey Club showed a slight increase in total wagers over 1996.

In 1997, $747,899,987 was wagered, compared to $743,481,539 (an increase of 0.6 percent). Those figures include money bet at Maryland tracks and off-track betting sites on Maryland races and out-of-state simulcasts, as well as money bet in other states on Maryland races.

"That's very, very good news," said Jim Mango, chief administrative officer for the Maryland Jockey Club. "After losing 30 days of live racing, that's a miracle."

He attributed the slight increase to good racing -- thanks to the state legislature's grant of $4.2 million to thoroughbred purses -- and to hustle by the Maryland Jockey Club staff that arranges for Maryland's signal to be televised outside the state.

Races from Pimlico and Laurel Park are simulcast in 30 states and the Virgin Islands. In 1997, bettors outside Maryland wagered $298,709,144 on Maryland races -- compared to $284,610,460 in 1996. That increase of 4.9 percent happened, again, despite 30 days of racing at Colonial Downs.

(The difference in live racing days the two years was only 17 -- 217 last year, 234 in 1996. That's because racing in 1996 was canceled several times because of snow and ice. It wasn't canceled once in 1997 because of bad weather.)

Other pertinent figures:

Wagers in Maryland on all races, in and out of state, totaled

$449,190,843 in 1997 -- compared to $458,871,079 in 1996.

"I think this was, in my opinion, a tremendous number," Mango said of the 1997 total, "being that we were in Virginia for 30 days."

Of that total, $144,800,155 was bet on Maryland races and $304,390,688 on simulcast races in 1997 -- compared to $169,513,388 on Maryland races and $289,357,691 on simulcast races in 1996.

That means that 67.8 percent of money bet in 1997 was bet on simulcast races -- compared to 63 percent in 1996. The increase, again, is mainly because of Colonial Downs.

"I think it was a great year," Mango said of 1997. "And I'm extremely optimistic about 1998."

Beginning this month, Lone Star Park in Texas and Gulfstream Park in Florida began simulcasting Maryland thoroughbred races for the first time. Also, Mango said, Las Vegas casinos have agreed to pay $3,000 per day -- up from $2,445 per day -- for the right to simulcast Maryland races.

"We're just so happy about that," Mango said. "It just shows that Maryland is a force out there."

Other promising developments, Mango said, include the potential deal with Rosecroft Raceway (more about that later) that would allow the Maryland Jockey Club to operate its tracks at night, to bring in even more out-of-state races and to expand the state's off-track betting network.

Joe De Francis, principal owner of Pimlico and Laurel Park, said that he would like to open an OTB in the Cumberland area once the thoroughbred and harness factions sign a simulcast agreement.

"Western Maryland is the only area of the state where we have no presence whatsoever," De Francis said. "We see that as a brand-new market."

Rosecroft deal not done

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