Laurel-Pimlico expands commingling


LAUREL -- Management at Laurel and Pimlico race courses is expanding its commingling base and projects that within a year the local industry -- which includes the horsemen and management -- will benefit by an extra $2.5 million.

Beginning with the Pimlico meet, which opens Sept. 10, entire cards from Maryland tracks will be simulcast to five new out-of-state plants.

The new sites are The Meadowlands, East Rutherford, N.J.; Atlantic City (N.J.) Race Course; Canterbury Downs, Shakopee, Minn.; Les Bois Park, Boise, Idaho; and Fair Grounds Race

Course, New Orleans.

Money wagered at those tracks is commingled with the betting pool at the Maryland facility, and the payouts are calculated from the entire amount gambled.

Laurel initiated commingling operations with Delaware Park, Garden State Park and about 45 Las Vegas casinos about two months ago.

"Between all three, we've been averaging about $200,000 a day," said Jim Mango, general manager at Laurel and Pimlico. "It's worked very well."

The Maryland tracks and horsemen receive a percentage of the money bet out of state, according to deals struck in each locale.

Mango added that out-of-state interest in Maryland racing "is strong. We're in a good position because we've got a good product. We are a year-round signal. We offer a competitive price. And we bend over backwards to offer good service from our mutuels department to our printing shop."

Mango cautioned that "it could all backfire we if we don't keep our horseflesh."

Mango would not comment about any new revenues being earmarked to keep Pimlico open for training during the winter months. That issue exploded into the so-called "Kitchen Boycott" by Pimlico horsemen last week when management announced it was shutting the track for for training for four months beginning Nov. 1.

Mango is also excited about a new National Pick Six, which is being instituted by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations starting Sept. 12.

On three Saturdays, stakes races from a variety of tracks will be offered in a national Pick-Six pool, guaranteeing a minimum $200,000 payout.

Maryland is the host state for the operation.

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