Betting drop a warning, horsemen say


LAUREL -- Some 15 minutes after Laurel Race Course ended the 258th and final program of Maryland's racing season yesterday, the most telling statistic came in: Betting handle at Laurel and Pimlico was down 5.5 percent for the year.

"That figure only underscores the importance of a simulcast/satellite wagering system in the state," said Joe De Francis, president of both tracks. "I don't think there's any doubt that passage and implementation of a system would help us have a much brighter 1992."

As off-track betting legislation awaits the 1992 General Assembly, Maryland racing rang out 1991 with an unspectacular card. Special Counsel won the 10th-race feature, giving Edgar Prado his 287th victory of the year, most among local riders.

King Leatherbury sent out three of the 11 winners, but that wasn't enough to prevent Dale Capuano from unseating him as the winningest trainer in the state. Capuano's 111 victories were eight more than Leatherbury's, the first time since 1975 that Leatherbury has not led state trainers.

Although yesterday's card technically ended a meeting, Laurel stays the course with another 11-race program today. The track compiled business figures for that 62-day meet and will start a new one today -- including Pimlico inter-track, attendance was down 6.3 percent from 1990 and handle down 7.1 percent -- but jockey and trainer races continue unabated through March 24, when the winter/spring meet concludes.

State law mandates payout of wagers with carry-over pools when a meet ends, so despite a lack of perfect tickets in the third- and fifth-race gimmick, there were four Double Triple winners yesterday. Bettors with a 4-3-anything combination in the fifth race collected $21,147.30 apiece.

NOTES: Officials for the Thoroughbred Racing Association and the Jockeys' Guild were expected to sign their new 3-year contract last night. . . . Sticks and Bricks and More Paces are the top names in today's Star de Naskra Stakes for Maryland-bred 3-year-olds. . . . For lack of horses, entries for Friday were not drawn as scheduled yesterday. Those races will be drawn today.

Laurel/Pimlico 1991 figures

Dates: 258

Total attendance: 2,701,434

Average attendance: 10,470 (-4.5%)

Total handle: $403,966,813

Average handle: $1,565,762 (-5.5%)

(All figures include inter-track business. Percentage declines are @as compared to 1990).

1991 Laurel top 10

Jockey.. .. .. ..Wins

E. Prado.. .. .. 287

M. Luzzi.. .. .. 284

M. Pino.. .. .. 215

J. Rocco.. .. .. 185

R. Wilson.. .. . 176

T. Peterson.. .. 145

M. Johnston.. .. 136

M. Castaneda.. ..100

C. Fenwick.. .. . 94

C. Ladner.. .. .. 93

Trainer.. .. .. .. Wins

D. Capuano.. .. .. 111

K. Leatherbury.. .. 103

V. Blengs.. .. .. .. 91

B. Perkins.. .. .. . 77

F. Campitelli.. .. ..76

C. Garcia.. .. .. .. 62

H. Wolfendale.. .. ..61

E. Gaudet.. .. .. .. 61

R. Delp.. .. .. .. . 53

R. Cartwright.. .. ..45

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