Step 1 in study of state industry taken

On Horse Racing

July 26, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Researchers at the University of Maryland have begun mailing questionnaires to people in all aspects of the racing industry as part of an analysis of its statewide economic impact.

The state legislature, when it approved this year's $11 million aid package to the industry, mandated the economic-impact study as well as four other tasks by the university: Conduct market surveys, develop marketing strategies, study the possibility of public-private partnerships and look into the financial arrangements of the off-track betting system.

Malcolm Commer, livestock economist with the university, said the economic study will be conducted first. It is to be completed by Dec. 1.

After he and the other researchers -- Wesley Musser, Nancy Wallace and Wayne Rhodes -- receive the questionnaires from thoroughbred and standardbred breeders, owners and trainers, they will conduct interviews and seek additional data from the tracks, training facilities and the Maryland Racing Commission.

Commer said he believes the study will be the most comprehensive of any on horse racing in the state. The most recent study, released last year by the American Horse Council, estimated that horse racing's impact on the Maryland economy is $1.5 billion.

Alberts on the mend

Maryland trainer Nancy Alberts is still recovering from injuries suffered when a horse kicked her in January at Laurel Park. Not only did Alberts need surgery for removal of her spleen, but she also contracted a disorder called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. It rendered her left arm useless.

"I've been able to start using it in just the past week or two," Alberts said Thursday. "For about two months I've been working with one arm. It's been a miserable six months. There was no letup of this pain."

Her son, William, took care of her horses. And many others chipped in.

"I'd just like to thank everybody who helped me," Alberts said. "There've been so many I couldn't even begin to name them. There're a lot more friends out there than you think."

Motion earns wins, praise

H. Graham Motion saddled three horses Friday, and they all won: Ya Ta Hay in the fifth, Pug in the seventh and Rollingwood in the eighth. Mario Verge rode all three.

Motion and his wife, Anita, have been praised from various quarters lately for their work with horses such as Bursting Forth and Secret Firm. Bursting Forth is the turf star of the MATCH series, and Secret Firm has won four of five races.

On July 2, the 3-year-old colt matched Laurel's seven-furlong record of 1 minute, 21 2/5 seconds. He's heading to Saratoga with Motion's other first-stringers with a goal of the Grade II $200,000 King's Bishop Stakes on Aug. 29, Travers day. There, Secret Firm might meet Favorite Trick.

Bill Beatson and Phyllis and Bill Dixon own Secret Firm. They bought him for $18,000 last year at Timonium's 2-year-olds-in-training sale. Beatson heaped more praise upon Motion.

"I've just never been happier with a trainer in Maryland than I have been with Graham Motion," Beatson said.

Et cetera

An investment group headed by Steven Crist, formerly of the New York Times and Racing Times, has purchased the Daily Racing Form. Although announcement of the sale came Friday, Crist said he couldn't discuss plans for the Form until details of the sale were completed next month. The $500,000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park today is a potential smashing showdown between Ajina, trained by Bill Mott, and Relaxing Rhythm, trained by Patrick Byrne. Although Relaxing Rhythm is 8-for-8, the money in my pocket is going down on Ajina.

Talk about smashing, how about the yearling sale last week at Keeneland? Fifteen yearlings sold for $1 million or more (the most since 1989). One sold for $4 million (only Seattle Dancer at $13.1 million in 1985 sold for more). Average price for the 149 yearlings was $482,765 (35 percent higher than last year). And gross receipts totaled $71,932,000 (up 15 percent from last year even though 36 fewer horses were sold). Last call for the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association Thoropac '98 crab feast tomorrow, beginning at 6: 30 p.m. in Exhibition Hall at the Timonium Fairgrounds. The Maryland Racing Writers' Association crab feast, auction and backstretch-scholarship presentation will be Oct. 9 at Pimlico. The 203-race career of the Suffolk Downs-based Playing Politics, retired earlier this year at the age of 16, will be featured at 10 p.m. Tuesday on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."

Racing to History

July 26, 1962: Angel Cordero Jr. rode his first winner in the United States, Counterate, at Aqueduct.

July 28, 1951: Citation, then the world's leading money-winning thoroughbred, paraded before 28,000 fans at Arlington Park in his last public appearance before retiring to stud.

July 28, 1987: Cordero won his 6,000th, on Lost Kitty in the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth Park.

"Racing to History" courtesy of Thoroughbred Racing Communications.

Pub Date: 7/26/98

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