LAUREL -- Pimlico Race Course management has reduced the value of the Pimlico Special from $1 million to $750,000 for the fourth running since its revival, on May 11.
Part of the savings will go toward making up a $1.5 million bonus announced Wednesday for an American Racing Championship Series.
The series, consisting of 10 major races for older horses at nine tracks, will start Feb. 9 with the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park and ends with the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 15. All of the races will be televised by ABC.
Bonuses will be awarded to the four horses with the most points, based on a 10-7-5-3-1 system. The bonuses will range from $750,000 to $150,000.
Jim Mango, general manager at Pimlico and Laurel race courses, said yesterday that "we don't really feel it's a cut in the purse, considering the bonus. We already were going to have our race televised, so we're not gaining anything except that we're part of the series and that's important."
When track management revived the Pimlico Special in 1988 after a 20-year hiatus, the race carried a $500,000 guaranteed purse, with a $100,000 bonus offered to the winner if he had been nominated to the Triple Crown series during his 3-year-old season.
Bet Twice won the race and earned the bonus. In 1989, Blushing John won the Special, with a $700,000 purse.
Management raised the value to $1 million this year in hopes of attracting Easy Goer and Sunday Silence.
Neither ran in the race, won by Criminal Type, who seems almost certain to be Horse of the Year as the result of that triumph plus several other important victories.
* Colonel Hill is favored heavily today at Laurel in the $150,000 Maryland Juvenile Championship, which drew 10 state-bred 2-year-old males.
Colonel Hill was a three-length winner in the Devil's Bag Stakes, his only start, at seven furlongs. Today's race is at 1 1/16 miles.
Among his rivals are three colts who ran in the Devil's Bag -- Haymaker (second), Axial Rift (third) and Valley Crossing (seventh).
Others entered are Pretty Amusing, A Call to Rise, A Step to Go, One Two Punch, Murray's Ruler and North Round Table.
* Hush Hush Indian, from Morty Rosen's Benray Farm, won yesterday's feature at Laurel by 1 3/4 lengths over Hank.
The home-bred son of Hush Hush Flash paid $12.60 in his triumph under Edgar Prado.