UPPER MARLBORO -- Jerry Robb said that going to the races today at Marlboro Race Course, now officially known as the Prince George's County Equestrian Center, is like attending "a family reunion."
For a couple of race cards -- today and next Wednesday, when Laurel Race Course is dark -- memories of Maryland's half-mile circuit will be revived at the five-eighths-mile oval in Upper Marlboro.
Robb, who has been the leading trainer at the two-day fall meet for the past three years, said Marlboro is "where I got my start, working for trainers Mickey and Buck Magill. Now both of their sons are blacksmiths, and do my work."
Robb has five horses listed on today's program, most originally entered, he said, "for races that were carded at different distances. I wanted to run Bebopaloobop, for example, at 3 1/2 furlongs and the race [the fifth] went at 6 1/2 furlongs. But all my horses have a little shot, though nothing great."
Win or lose, Robb said he still enjoys the atmosphere. "It is like Timonium," he added. He will be back next Wednesday with Pulverizing, He Is Risen or Little Bold John to run in the $40,000 Marlboro Cup.
It was Prince George's County horsewoman Marilyn Ketts who conceived the idea to bring back pari-mutuel racing to Marlboro. Even though racing was discontinued in 1972 and the grandstand is leveled, the one-day revival in 1988 was a success. The program was expanded the following year to its present two-day format.
Paul Lundberg, public relations director of the Horse Center, a 100-acre facility operating all year, said the races are principally a fund-raiser for the center's therapeutic riding program.
"Eight percent of the handle, or roughly $30,000 from each card, supports the program. It runs from April through October and we have about 45 riders that take part," he said.
Racing at Marlboro features:
* Two general admissions tents, housing 72 pari-mutuel windows. Cost is $3 per person.
* A Marlboro Club tent -- "sort of a cross between a clubhouse and Sports Palace" Lundberg said -- with 10 betting windows. Admission is $8 per person.
* Eleven live races, plus the simulcast of the Cowdin Stakes from Aqueduct. Next week there are 10 races.
* One early Daily Double, 12 Exactas, five Triples and a Superfecta, in which bettors pick the first four finishers. In addition, there is a Pick 7, from races 4 through 10. It is a free bet, limited to one per customer. The winning prize is a new car. Next Wednesday, the card will offer nine Triples plus a Superfecta, as well as another car giveaway connected with a Pick 7 bet.
* Well-known race caller Dave Johnson is the track announcer. Post time each Wednesday is 12:30 p.m.
NOTES: Laurel's leading rider, Edgar Prado, is visiting family members in Peru. He did not ride yesterday and is not named on mounts tomorrow or Friday. But he is expected back by the weekend. . . . Trainer Vinnie Blengs has left Laurel to winter with about 20 horses in Florida. Included in the shipment is Selima Stakes winner Booly. Blengs is leaving about 20 horses at Laurel for the winter. . . . People are still talking about bloodstock agent Sy Cohen's big score over the weekend. Cohen netted nearly $250,000. Not only did he win the $120,000 winner's share of the Selima with his filly, Booly, but he also sold his other filly, Morphonyess, who finished sixth, before the race for a reported $120,000. Cohen bought both fillies as weanlings at Keeneland for a total of $18,000.
The Marlboro race meet was revived for one day in 1988 after a 16-year absence. Since 1989, Marlboro has been running a two-day fall meet.
Leading trainer ($1,500 bonus)
1989 -- Jerry Robb (17 pts.)
1990 -- Robb (15 pts.)
1991 -- Robb (15 pts.)
Leading jockey ($1,000 bonus)
1989 -- Mike Luzzi (24 pts.)
1990 -- Anthony DeSilva (31 pts.)
1991 -- Lillian Kuykendall and Gilberto Delgado (26 pts.)
Marlboro Nursery* winners
1990 -- All Trae
1991 -- Ragtime Dancing
Marlboro Cup** winners
1989 -- Baldski's Choice
1990 -- Baldski's Choice
1991 -- Sunny Sunrise
* $15,000 allowance race run as today's feature
** $40,000 allowance race run as Oct. 28 feature