Denman won't return to Pimlico to call this spring


Trevor Denman won't be at Pimlico Race Course to call race in May and June, as he was the previous two years. Denman has been hired to announce at Hollywood Park, making him a virtual year-round employee at Southern California's three major tracks.

The development is apparently good news for Dave Rodman, new announcer at Pimlico and Laurel race courses. When Denman came in to replace Milo Perrins last year, the implication was that Perrins did not have the "name" of Denman and could therefore be shunted aside when Denman was available.

Rodman doesn't have marquee value, but that doesn't mean he's not as good as Denman, whose calls tend to be overrated. Nor does it mean that Rodman, like Perrins, would have particularly cared to have his professional pride wounded by a Denman "cameo."

It was a real curiosity that Laurel and Pimlico would promote itself as major league, then suddenly bring in Denman. So, all facets of Maryland racing were first class -- except the announcer?

Meanwhile, Denman's hiring is a sign of new cooperation between old rivals Hollywood and Santa Anita. It is the first time an announcer has ever been employed by both tracks.

Hollywood is in a new era. Long-time chairman of the board Marje Everett was ousted early this year after losing a power struggle to R.D. Hubbard.

* Jacinto Vasquez, a likely future Hall of Fame jockey, may be coming to Pimlico to ride this spring. Agent Steve Vaonakis said Vasquez told him he is "looking for somewhere fresh" to begin riding after he leaves Florida in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, Vaonakis is booking mounts for 20-year-old apprentice Brian Miller, a newcomer from Kentucky.

Another recent arrival is veteran Danny Sorenson, who has ridden in Southern California in recent years.

* Laurel will show the Mike Tyson-Razor Ruddock heavyweight boxing match tomorrow night. Sports Palace seating is $30 at the gate ($25 pre-night) and reserved grandstand seating is $25 ($20 pre-night).

* The decision by Pimlico management last week to ax five Mondays from the spring racing schedule should reap immediate dividends in terms of larger fields.

An expansion of the schedule would have perpetuated the problem of short fields that has plagued Maryland racing in recent months. Given that too much racing reduces quality, yields diminishing returns, strains horseplayers' reserves and does little for employee morale, the turnabout was a wise one.

* Gary Stevens, perhaps the nation's most talented jockey, insists will retire when he reaches age 30.

Stevens, who just turned 28, says he wants to raise his children in his native Idaho after already having earned enough money in California to last a lifetime.

If he follows through, it would be the most significant case of a premature, self-imposed sports retirement since Bjorn Borg


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