The American Championship Racing Series has had a troubled week.
Two of the nine tracks, Rockingham and Oaklawn Parks, that sponsor a pair of the rich stakes events for older horses, have backed out of sponsoring races despite the program's success in attracting national television exposure.
Then to compound problems, the management at Pimlico Race Course, which holds the Pimlico Special, the fourth leg of the series, is balking at a proposed format change in 1993.
ACRS president Barry Weisbord is proposing a "Triple Crown Doubleheader" next year for tracks that hold both Triple Crown and ACRS races.
The change could mean that the Pimlico Special, now held a week before the Preakness, would be moved to Preakness Day.
It's similar to the Belmont Park format that has the Nassau County Handicap, the fifth ACRS race, on the same card as the Belmont Stakes.
Weisbord said yesterday he learned late last week from Ed Callahan, general manager at Rockingham Park, that the track couldn't afford to host the New England Classic, a $500,000 stakes and seventh race in the ACRS series that was scheduled for July 18.
He said he huddled last weekend with Jerry Lawrence, executive vice president of the New York Racing Association, and they decided to move the July 4 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park to July 18 to fill the void.
The NYRA board of trustees approved the measure yesterday. The Suburban has the same conditions as the New England Classic-- 1 1/4 miles with a $500,000 purse -- but will now be televised by ABC-TV.
Timothy Capps, first vice president of racing and public relations at Pimlico, said that Weisbord has held discussions with Pimlico about moving the Pimlico Special.
"But we haven't agreed to it," Capps said. "Right now the Pimlico Special is run at the perfect time."