Without televised racing from elsewhere, the annual thoroughbred meeting at the Maryland State Fair would probably be history.
"The power of simulcasting is what keeps us going," Timonium general manager Howard M. "Max" Mosner Jr. said yesterday. "Without it, we might just as well close the gates."
Timonium's eight-day stand opened with cameras piping in races from Saratoga, Delaware Park, Monmouth Park and Calder Race Course. With less money available for purses, the meet has been reduced from 10 to eight days for the third straight year.
"I remember the first day we simulcast. I went down to the grandstand and there was nobody there," Mosner said. "But then I called Jim Mango [then a Maryland Jockey Club executive], and he told me, `We're going to have a $2 million day.' I couldn't believe it.
"If someone had told me we'd handle $17 million over eight days that first year, I would have gotten a man in a white coat with a net to come after him."
Timonium is down to two Maryland-bred stakes races over its final weekend, after conducting three open stakes over 10-day stands.
"By going to eight days, we both reduced our expenses and handled more money," Mosner said. "It's been a win-win situation."
On the track yesterday, jockey Larry Reynolds moved within two of 3,000 career victories by scoring on Forever Joy in the fourth race, and Erick Rodriguez opened the meeting by winning on a horse named Rodrigues.
Drawings in the raffle to benefit the Disabled Jockeys Fund will be held Labor Day after the ninth race. You need not be present to win.
Among the items to be raffled are guitars autographed by the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, a football autographed by Ravens running back Jamal Lewis, an Orioles jersey signed by Matt Riley, a Masters flag signed by 15 current and former golfers (including Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods), various racing memorabilia and Spider-Man items autographed by film star Tobey Maguire.
Tickets priced at $2 can be purchased at the lower-level entrance to the main grandstand, second-floor reserve seat booth, and from roving salespeople throughout the track.