Laurel to close for Christmas week
Track to reopen Dec. 26 after a five-day layoff
For the first time since Laurel Race Course has been running winter racing, the track will be closed for a five-day Christmas break.
Laurel president Joe De Francis announced the change yesterday, stating that Laurel will be dark from Monday, Dec. 21 through Christmas Day.
The track re-opens Dec. 26 and will then race a 6-day schedule through New Year's Day.
"I think it will be good for everyone from the fans to the horsemen and the employees to have a break," De Francis said.
"This year, it's a unique situation since Christmas falls on Friday. We would be dark on Christmas and Christmas Eve anyway and our regularly scheduled dark days are already Monday and Wednesday," he added. "So the one day [Tuesday, Dec. 22] that we would normally race, we will re-schedule and run on Monday, Dec. 28."
De Francis said that the week before the holiday is poor for business "since people are saving up for Christmas. But the week afterward is one of the best all year. Hopefully, after the one-week break, we will return and have some terrific racing."
Clark, McCarron make winning team
Henry Clark, Maryland's 88-year-old Hall of Fame trainer, does not have to wait until the holidays to celebrate.
He and Gregg McCarron teamed up to win two races yesterday, including Laurel's $20,500 feature.
Clark sent out Christiana Stables' I Gloo Can Oo to win the fifth race and then followed that up with Lake Shore's victory in the eighth race.
Clark said there were three claims in for I Gloo Can Oo, who was dropping in for an $8,500 claiming tag.
"That was the purpose: to win a race and lose her," Clark said. "I talked to the man [Joe Ayres] afterward who took her and wished him the best of luck and told him as much about her as I could."
Lake Shore, owned by Clark's son, Henry Clark 3rd, won his first race since April 10 in the feature.
"He was a good 2-year-old and then won a couple of races at 3," Clark said. "But after that he hurt his back in an accident at the starting gate. I think I entered him eight times over the summer and the races didn't fill for him. I entered him for $35,000 [claiming] last week and the race didn't go. So I said, what the heck, and put him in this $50,000 claimer."
The 13-1 long shot rallied from off the pace and beat Beltivo by one and a half lengths, paying $29.20 to win.
Lake Shore is the older brother to Clark's promising 2-year-old colt, Olney.
Clark said he has already turned down a substantial offer from a trainer in California to buy Olney.
"No, it wasn't Charlie Whittingham," Clark said. "But it was a friend of his. Then I was approached by one of the top trainers in Maryland yesterday [Monday] who wanted to buy him," Clark said. "But, he's not for sale."
Clark wouldn't quote figures, but the price is said to be in the $100,000-plus range.
Clark plans to run Olney on Sunday in the Devil's Bag Stakes at Laurel.
Both Lake Shore and Olney have Christiana Stables' breeding top and bottom. The Christiana outfit of Jane duPont Lunger has been a Clark client for 32 years.
Both horses are sired by Christiana-bred Carnivalay and are out of Tidal Wave.
"Mrs. Lunger pretty much just did me a favor and sold me Tidal Wave very reasonably," Clark said. "The filly just wasn't right as a yearling and was never broken. In fact, she never has had a bridle or saddle on her."
Since the Hayward Avenue side of Pimlico is scheduled to close for about 3 1/2 months next week, Clark will move his horses to the Pimlico Road side.
"I'm going to play it by ear," he said. "I don't like to run my horses in the winter and I don't like the concrete floors in the stalls [on the Pimlico Road side of Pimlico]. I'll have to see what the weather is like and I'll have to see how Olney runs on Sunday. After that, I just might take him home."
NOTES: The Lone Star Jockey Club will conduct a ground-breaking ceremony at the Grand Prairie site of it's proposed new Texas thoroughrbred track on Saturday. . . . The need for a "catch chute" at the head of the Laurel stretch was once again demonstrated yesterday when Twist of Brass dumped her rider and ran off during the post parade for the fifth race. The filly attempted to jump a rail at the chute and crashed through it instead. She cut her left knee, but had no serious injuries. Horsemen have petitioned management to build a special chute in the area to catch loose horses. Timothy Capps, vice president of racing at Laurel, said the equipment, including a 32-foot gate, needed to erect the chute has been ordered and is scheduled to arrive in about a week. . . . Laurel management is negotiating with AutoTote of Newark, Del., and International Tote, of Carlsbad, Calif., about replacing Hunt Valley-based AmTote International, Inc. as supplier of wagering equipment for Maryland's thoroughbred tracks. Laurel-Pimlico has a contract with AmTote through October 1993. GTech Corp of Providence, R.I., announced last week it's intent to buy AmTote.