Changes are likely during Laurel meet


The Maryland racing industry should undergo major changes during the next six months while racing is conducted at Laurel Race Course.

Among them will be more simulcasting of out-of-state races. Large portions of whole cards from California and New Jersey tracks could be added at the end of Laurel's daily live-race card -- and the state's first off-track betting parlors should be established.

Laurel opens a 62-day fall meet today. The meet runs through Dec. 31 and will then be extended until mid-March. Dates for 1993 are expected to be announced next week by the Maryland Racing Commission.

Track operator Joe De Francis is eager to bring in more simulcasts, "but that is contingent on how negotiations go with Local 27 of the Food and Commercial Workers Union [representing the bulk of track employees]," he said. "The talks are just in the preliminary stages and should progress in the next three weeks."

Among the issues are wage increases paid to mutuels employees after the first nine races each day. Incremental salary increases for each additional race now prohibit the track from taking a large number of extra races on a daily basis.

Rosecroft Raceway and Delmarva Dows, the state's two harness tracks, started taking whole-card simulcasts from the trotting meet at Garden State Park last week and have seen their handle surge by about 18 percent. The New Jersey races are interspersed with the live Rosecroft card.

The Charles Town Races started simulcasting entire cards from Santa Anita at the end of its live race program yesterday.

Today's opening feature is the Martha Washington Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at 9 furlongs on the grass. Star Minister, who has won three straight dirt stakes, takes on grass specialist Logan's Mist.

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