9-track network includes home bets Md. Jockey Club agrees in principle to join group

Laurel notebook

January 05, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Jockey Club has signed a letter of intent to televise races on a proposed cable television network that will include an in-home wagering system.

"We have agreed in principle to it," said Jim Mango, chief administrative officer for MJC. "The product has been tested in Kentucky, and we were pleased to jump on board."

The system encompasses nine thoroughbred tracks and is pointing toward a November start-up.

But, before anything becomes official, the political ramifications of the operation must be addressed and agreements with local cable companies negotiated.

A state law currently allows telephone wagering from home, according to Mango, but the Maryland Racing Commission has no regulations dealing with the issue.

"The commission is just starting to look at the possibilities," he said. "A week from Wednesday, I'm due to comment a little at their next meeting."

The network hopes to carry four to six live races hourly, with wagers being made through a prepaid account.

zTC The position of Gov. Parris N. Glendening -- who has adamantly opposed slot machines in Maryland -- on in-home wagering has not been cemented, and the commission is expected to seek his approval before going forward.

Maryland attempted to initiate such wagering several years ago as a demonstration site, but the experiment ended when the governor opposed it.

Weather Vane prevails

The three horses had been noses apart in the Contrary Rose Stakes last month, so a rerun was anticipated yesterday.

Instead, Weather Vane, who was fourth in their previous meeting, dominated from gate to wire and won the $53,900 Francis Scott Key Stakes at Laurel Park.

Her chief opposition did not come, as expected, from Palette Knife and Secret Prospect, but from long shot Citi Sounds, who stalked Weather Vane for most of the six furlongs but could never get command and lost by a half-length.

Trainer Richard Delp said Weather Vane will receive a short rest and "maybe come back in the Barbara Fritchie [on Valentine's Day]. It's at seven-eighths, but she can win at that distance. It's sure nice to have one like this."

The 4-year-old filly led all Maryland stakes winners with six last year and won two other stakes races out of state. She has boosted her career earnings above $400,000.

"She makes me look good," winning rider Mario Pino said. "The key was she relaxed down the back side, so I tried to wait until the last eighth of a mile [to urge her]."

Pub Date: 1/05/98

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