Use of nasal strips for mounts approved

Md. joins growing list

new track moves forward

OTB to close temporarily

November 24, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Maryland will soon join a growing number of states in which horses can race with nasal strips. Beginning Dec. 15, thoroughbreds and standardbreds at Maryland tracks will be allowed to wear the breathing aids.

The Maryland Racing Commission approved their use yesterday at its monthly meeting at the Timonium fairgrounds.

In other action, the commission approved regulations clearing the way for possible construction of a horse track in Allegany County and said it would allow a Charles County off-track betting parlor to close temporarily for renovation.

The commission's approval of the nasal strips makes Maryland the 10th state to legalize them, according to the company that produces them, Minneapolis-based CNS Inc.

Similar to Breathe Right strips for humans, the FLAIR Equine Nasal Strips cost $10. Placed across a horse's nose, the strip prevents collapse of nasal passages, increasing breathing efficiency. The company also claims usage reduces bleeding in the lungs, a common equine malady.

The strips gained attention during the Breeders' Cup series Nov. 6 at Gulfstream Park in Florida. Three winners of Cup races wore them, and the three were the longest shots of the eight Breeders' Cup winners: Anees ($62.60 to win the Juvenile), Cash Run ($67 to win the Juvenile Fillies) and Cat Thief ($41.20 to win the Classic).

But D. Wayne Lukas, the trainer of Cash Run and Cat Thief, did not credit the strips with helping his horses win. He said he tried them because they were new and couldn't hurt. Of the 25 horses that wore the nasal strips in Breeders' Cup races, seven finished first, second or third.

Other states in which nasal strips are legal are Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.

Maryland's racing commissioners approved their use despite objections from Chick Lang, former Maryland racetrack executive. Lang said approving their use without further study would be a "horrendous mistake."

"This is another one of those crazy things somebody has come up with," Lang said.

Representing the state's thoroughbred horsemen, Alan Foreman and Wayne Wright urged approval of the strips but said bettors should be informed which horses would be wearing them.

Officials of Pimlico and Laurel Park, as well as the state's two harness tracks, Rosecroft Raceway and Bally's at Ocean Downs, said they would provide the information in their programs.

In setting up the process for accepting and granting a new racetrack license, the commission said it will accept applications for 60 days beginning Jan. 3. William Rickman Jr., president and CEO of Delaware Park in Stanton, Del., has expressed interest in building a track in Western Maryland and OTBs around the state.

John Franzone and Ken Schertle, chairman and executive director, respectively, of the commission, said it was impossible to estimate when construction of a new track could begin. They agreed that chances of that happening by the end of 2000 were slim.

The commission granted a request by Cap Mona, owner of the OTB parlor in Port Tobacco, to close four months beginning Dec. 13 for what Mona called "major repairs."

The commission had already told the Maryland Jockey Club that it could close the Poor Jimmy's OTB in Cecil County for renovations for as many as three months. That means that for several months early next year, the state's OTB network could consist only of the Riverboat on the Potomac River and the Cracked Claw near Frederick.

No charts

Because of technical difficulties, The Sun was unable to publish Laurel charts this past weekend. We apologize for the inconvenience to our readers and will resume publishing the charts as soon as possible.

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