2 Pimlico stakes are lowered by $25,000 each


LAUREL -- A drop in the value of two stakes at the spring meet at Pimlico Race Course will reflect the drop in business Laurel Race Course experienced during January.

The Federico Tesio Stakes, now worth $175,000, and the John B. Campbell Handicap, now $125,000, were each lowered by $25,000.

Betting handle was down 6.4 percent at Laurel last month. "We're trying to conform with economic reality," said Joe De Francis, president of both tracks.

De Francis, however, noted an upsurge in business the last two days, and said purses for overnight (non-stakes) races have not been decreased. "We don't want to [lower them], unless we're absolutely forced to," he said. "We realize one of the best ways to invest money is in purses."

De Francis cited the sluggish economy and the Persian Gulf war for the downturn affecting Laurel and many other tracks throughout the country.

The schedule for Pimlico includes stakes only through April; the meet runs through July 3.

Four other six-figure stakes during the first half of the meeting will remain the same: the Pimlico Oaks ($200,000), Snow Goose Handicap ($100,000), Gallorette Handicap ($100,000) and Jennings Handicap ($100,000).

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