Horsemen, track differ on who is Special enough


March 22, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The purse for the Pimlico Special is still undetermined and is likely to remain in doubt until some possible starters are pointed to their spring campaigns.

Lenny Hale, Maryland Jockey Club vice president of racing, said Sonny Hine-trained Skip Away is the only one of four specific big-name horses committed to the Special, and "they are talking about running him in the Oaklawn [Park Handicap on April 4]."

Barring injury, that would not interfere with running Skip Away at Pimlico on May 9.

Now comes the rub. The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has named Gentlemen, Formal Gold and Silver Charm as target Special entries if the purse is to be increased beyond $600,000.

Gentlemen bled badly while finishing a surprising last against inferior competition in his last race, Formal Gold has just resumed training and Silver Charm's itinerary is uncertain.

So, without one of those three, the MTHA opposes a rise to $750,000.

But Hale said track management hopes to obtain "three Grade I winners" to up the ante the $1 million. "We might be able to get European horses."

That does not mesh with the MTHA's intent, according to executive secretary Wayne Wright.

"They want to increase the purse regardless of the entries' quality," he said. "We have no intention of agreeing to more than $600,000 unless we get two of those particular horses [including Skip Away].

"If their position is any different from that which we agreed, it wouldn't be the first time they agreed to one thing and did another."

Wright said any increase comes "from the purse account, without $1 from track management. It's easy for them to support an increase when it's not their money."

The Maryland Jockey Club has already concurred with a suggestion from the horsemen to supply Special patrons with a free Pimlico program, free general parking and free admission to the grandstand in an effort to draw a sizable crowd to the event.

The definition of the drawing cards seems to be in question, however.

More Derby wagering

Thanks to technological advances, Churchill Downs will expand the number of wagering interests in the Kentucky Derby 14.

That number had been limited to 12 -- regardless of the size of the field -- with the overflow lumped into the field bet.

Included in the change will be modifications in the infield and paddock tote boards.

Most of the Derby's off-track betting sites are equipped to handle 14. Other sites will have to lump the Nos. 12 and beyond into the field. As many as 20 can start.

Virginia Derby planned

Colonial Downs president Jeffrey Jacobs has announced plans for the first Virginia Derby, a 1 1/4 -mile turf race for 3-year-olds.

The event will carry a purse of at least $200,000 and highlight the Virginia track's second fall meeting, scheduled to begin Aug. 26.

"The Virginia Derby will be one of the richest 3-year-old turf races in North America and will be the obvious highlight of our seven-week thoroughbred meet," Jacobs told the Daily Racing Form.

"Our intent is to work in conjunction with the Virginia Tourism Corporation to attract a crowd of 20,000 people to Colonial Downs for Derby Day, Virginia-style."

The final purse could reach nearly $500,000 and will be determined by sponsor partnerships and negotiations with Virginia horsemen.

Depending on negotiations with television networks, the Virginia Derby will be held Oct. 3 or 4.

Revenue analysis set

The MTHA has enlisted accountant Craig Gegorek to conduct an analysis of the tracks' revenue sharing proposal with Rosecroft Raceway.

After completion of his study, the boards of directors of the state's horsemen and breeders will conduct a joint meeting and presumably will vote on the matter.

That should be early next month.

Harness celebration

The weeklong celebration of state harness racing, "Maryland's Mane Attraction," is scheduled Oct. 6-11 at Rosecroft.

Highlighting the week is the $400,000 Showcase of Champions, the final test of the year for Maryland-sired Standardbreds. Finals will be run in eight classes.

Climaxing the festivities is the Chesapeake yearling sale on the final day.

Foreman promoted

Alan Foreman, attorney for the MTHA, has been promoted to chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

Foreman founded the organization that encompasses horsemen's groups in Maryland, Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Laurel's week

Post times: Today, Wednesday-Saturday, 12:35 p.m.

Simulcast: Tomorrow

Dark: Tuesday

Information: 410-792-7775

Out-of-town simulcasts: For results, scratches, call 410-792-7464.

Pub Date: 3/22/98

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