March giving De Francis a rough rideTrack...


March giving De Francis a rough ride

Track owner reports break-in at his town house

The sixth race was just about to be run at Laurel Race Course yesterday, when Donna Kennedy, personal secretary to track operator Joe De Francis, got a disturbing message.

The alarm system at De Francis' Inner Harbor town house had gone off. She immediately summoned the Baltimore City police.

After officers reported nothing amiss, Kennedy dispatched Laurel security guard and driver, Bob Darling, to reset the alarm.

According to De Francis, when Darling got to the town house, he found that a rock had been thrown through a French door. While Darling was on the phone to Kennedy, he heard a noise and saw a man with a gun coming through the opening.

Darling dropped the phone, De Francis said, pulled out his gun and pursued the intruder for about a block before he lost him.

"Do you think this has something to do with the Ides of March being against me?" De Francis asked. In addition to his house being broken into, De Francis was sued earlier this month for the second time in a year by his Laurel/Pimlico partners, Bob and

Tom Manfuso.

OTB process starts

Maryland's first off-track betting parlor could be up and running in time for the Kentucky Derby on May 1, if there are no delays in the approval process.

Kenneth Schertle, executive director of the Maryland Racing Commission, said the licensing body received it's first OTB application yesterday, from John "Pappy" Poole, owner of the Cracked Claw Restaurant in Urbana.

Schertle estimated that it will take the commission about a month to six weeks to review Poole's application, conduct personal and financial background checks and hold a public hearing within 10 miles of the facility before the site is licensed.

"We've never done this before, so it [the time frame] is only a guess," Schertle said. "The permit can only be issued that quick, however, if we don't run into any problems."

New post time

Starting today, post time for the first Laurel race is 1 p.m. The new post time is also in effect for weekends and holidays.

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