By early next week, the Maryland Racing Commission should receive its first application for the establishment of an off-track betting parlor.
Operators of the state's racetracks have finalized a contract with John "Pappy" Poole, expected to be the initial licensee, and are waiting for him to sign the document.
Poole, who owns the Cracked Claw Restaurant in Urbana in Frederick County, said he will look over the 40-page contract this weekend and consult with his attorney Monday before he signs the agreement.
"We're finally there," Poole said. "I received the contract by mail [yesterday], but my lawyer took the day off. Of course, everything is in their [the tracks'] favor. But it finally looks like we're moving ahead."
Once the contract is signed, Poole will make his formal application to the commission, "probably on Monday or Tuesday," he said.
The racing board then will conduct background and financial checks on Poole and hold a hearing within 10 miles of the Cracked Claw to listen to community feedback.
Although there has been some opposition from the Parent-Teachers Association of the nearby Urbana Elementary School and some members of the Urbana Civic Association, Poole said the majority of people in the community support the project.
"I have about 400 to 500 signatures from virtually everyone in Urbana offering their support," Poole said.
The restaurant, formerly known as the Peter Pan Inn, is located about five miles from Frederick. It seats about 800 and has parking for about 300 cars.
Poole has received zoning approval from Frederick County, and the jurisdiction's planning commission approved a site plan for the project last month.
According to commission chairman John H. "Jack" Mosner Jr., once Poole makes his application to the commission: "We're going to put it on the front burner. We want to act on it as promptly as possible to accommodate him [Poole] and to get an off-track betting system up and running. At the same time, though, we are going to be extremely thorough and insure the integrity of the process."
Jim Mango, general manager at Laurel-Pimlico, said he will be at the Cracked Claw at 10 a.m. Monday to address prospective pari-mutuel tellers. "Hopefully, we're start training them next week and they will be able to work a couple of days at [the coming] Pimlico [meet].
"It looks like we're in the homestretch in getting this first outlet opened," he said.
New Late Double
Starting tomorrow, Laurel is introducing an added Late Double.
"It's an idea we borrowed from the New York tracks, where it's worked pretty well," Mango said.
"If there is a short field late in the card, we will hook that race up with the following one and create another Daily Double. We won't do it every day, but it will add another betting option for our fans."
In addition to the Daily Double on the first two races tomorrow, there will be a new Late Double on the eighth and ninth races and then the regular Late Double on the ninth and 10th races.
Raglan Road impresses
Triple Crown nominee Raglan Road drew off to an 8 1/2 -length victory in yesterday's Laurel feature and will try some Kentucky Derby preps.
Trainer Leon Blusiewicz said the son of Deputy Minister could either go in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct March 27 or the $600,000 Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway Park the same day.
"If we go the Jim Beam route, we might start him in the John Batta- glia Memorial [at Turfway] next Saturday or stay here for the Private Terms Stakes," Blusiewicz said.
The horse, purchased privately as a yearling for $70,000, is owned by Paul Fitzpatrick of Plantation, Fla.
Seefeldt's winning return
Andrea Seefeldt, Maryland's leading female jockey, won her first race yesterday since returning from a two-month vacation.
"I got married last May [to Larry Knight Jr.], and we never went on a honeymoon," Seefeldt said. "I was too busy riding. So, this winter seemed like a good time to take a break."
The couple went to Antigua, and Seefeldt said she waited to return until her main client, trainer Dick Small, started cranking up his outfit for the spring races.
"A lot of his horses were in South Carolina," Seefeldt said. "Now they're coming back, and so am I."
Seefeldt won yesterday on the Small-trained Miscible in the sixth race.