LAUREL -- The name Budweiser might be back on the Budweiser International.
Corporate leadership of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., canceled the company's sponsorship of the $750,000 grass race scheduled for Oct. 17. But, yesterday, Laurel Race Course operator Joe De Francis said the race may get to keep its moniker.
"Anheuser-Busch already sponsors the $250,000 Maryland Million Classic on Sept. 26," De Francis said. "Company officials told me they were reluctant to make that heavy of a commitment in one market area with two races so close together. Instead, we are trying to work out a deal where the regional Anheuser-Busch distributors -- instead of the corporate entity itself -- will sponsor the International."
De Francis said that the distributors will not make as large a contribution as the company. "But it will still be substantial enough to give them name entitlement and continuity in calling the race the Budweiser International."
De Francis added that Anheuser-Busch is interested in the potential Texas market. The De Francis management team is connected with the Lone Star Jockey Club, which is trying to obtain a license to build a new $95-million track in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. "Anheuser-Busch wants to be involved with us in both places," De Francis said.
There are four applicants being considered for the Dallas-Fort Worth license. De Francis said a decision might be made by the Texas Racing Commission by the end of next week.
NOTES: The 42-day Laurel meet ends today with the track offering free admission and free Maryland Million posters. Handle and attendance figures have dropped about 6 percent from the corresponding meeta year ago. . . . Trainer Steward Mitchell has has been suspended 15 days after the filly Dessa Girl tested positive for acepromazine after a winning race on Aug. 20. The banned substance is commonly used as a tranquilizer. . . . King Leatherbury started a 15-day drug-related suspension yesterday. . . . Trainer Tom Caviness, who left the racetrack about three years ago to pursue other business interests, saddled his first winner yesterday since his return to the track. Caviness has a six-horse stable located at Pimlico. He won the eighth race yesterday with the filly Leehawk. . . Horsemen have responded enthusiastically to tomorrow's opening of Timonium Race Course. A total of 125 horses were entered on the 11-race card. The track is offering 10 live races plus the simulcast of the Choice Handicap from Monmouth Park.