LAUREL -- Dave Rodman has been named the race-caller at Laurel and Pimlico race courses, filling a position marked by instability the past two years.
Rodman, 32, has been the announcer at Louisiana Downs in Shreveport, La., since October 1984. He will begin his new duties March 14, when racing moves from Laurel to Pimlico.
Since Robin Burns resigned in April 1989, track officials have had a hard time filling the position on a permanent basis. After Burns' departure, seven men called races at either track: Ray Haight, Jack Salter, Trevor Denman, Milo Perrins, Doug Vair, Jehan Malherbe and John Curren.
Curren, who has been announcing at Laurel since late December, is returning to his permanent position at Delaware Park, which opens March 16.
Rodman's calls are characterized as "steady, accurate and not too flashy" by Mitch Allen, Daily Racing Form trackman who has heard him in his travels for the Form. Larry Collmus, who said yesterday the job had come down to Rodman and himself, said Rodman is capable.
Rodman, from New Orleans, began calling races in 1981 at Jefferson Downs in Kenner, La. He said he is looking forward to calling races "on a year-round basis." Louisiana Downs does not conduct year-round racing.
* Mark Johnston is scheduled to fly to San Francisco early today for tomorrow's Eclipse Award ceremonies.
Johnston said he is "90 percent" certain that he will be named 1990's top apprentice. He is a strong favorite to win over Paul Toscano and Vann Belvoir, the other remaining candidates.
Announcement of the awards on "ABC's Wide World of Sports" (channels 13, 7) is scheduled shortly after the Donn Handicap from Gulfstream Park, which has a 5:04 p.m. post time.
If Johnston, 20, wins the award, he will be the seventh Maryland-based bug boy to do so since the awards began in 1970.
NOTES: Twelve older runners have been entered in the Donn Handicap, which has a $500,000 purse. The 1 1/8 -mile race kicks off the 10-race American Championship Racing Series, and will be simulcast as the 11th event on a 12-race program at Laurel and Pimlico. Rhythm, who drew post No. 3, is the likely favorite. . . . Johnston won two races yesterday, including the $25,000 feature on front-running Double Artemis. . . . Six 3-year-olds go in Laurel's $40,000 Dancing Count Stakes tomorrow. . . . Trainers Lou Nichols and Lisa Ruch begin 15-day suspensions for medication violations Monday.