Both sides of the Pimlico Race Course stabling area likely will stay open for training this winter.
Laurel/Pimlico track operator Joe De Francis said yesterday that "there are enough horses on the grounds to warrant keeping both sides open at least through Jan. 1. Then we will see where we go from there. The reason we wanted to shut the barn area down last year is that we didn't have enough horses to fill the stalls. But Lenny Hale [vice president of racing] and John Mooney [general manager] have done a good job recruiting outfits."
Hale said there are about 150 more horses stabled at the Maryland tracks this year than in 1992 "and it seems Maryland horsemen have more horses running now than they did a year ago. For example, Henry Clark, who usually turns his horses out for the winter, plans to keep racing them, and Dick Small will keep a larger contingent of his horses racing instead of sending them to the Carolinas."
Even though trainer Vinnie Blengs has taken the bulk of his large string to Florida, "he is leaving about a dozen horses here with Hamilton Smith," Hale said. "We also have Tim Ritchey coming in from Delaware Park to help fill the void." He added that trainer Clint Thrasher from New England and Michael Erb from Finger Lakes also will be new winter arrivals "and we're talking to others."
Some trainers stabled in older barns at Pimlico might be asked to move to the Pimlico Avenue area while their stables are refurbished, Hale said. "And there is the possibility we will raze a couple more of the older barns like we did last year with Barn F," he said. "But that is still under discussion."
Last year when management announced it was closing the Pimlico barn area for the winter, horsemen staged a two-day boycott of entries and the move became a major issue between horsemen's groups and management. It was resolved after a couple of months of negotiations with the Pimlico Avenue side staying open.
Chrysler drops $1 million bonus
The Chrysler Corp., sponsor of the Triple Crown series, is dropping the $1 million bonus it pays to the high point finisher in the three-race series.
Instead, the company will donate $300,000 to an equine-related charity. Chrysler still will offer a $5 million bonus to any horse that wins the Triple Crown.
"The bonus concept was not that great of a success," said De Francis, who was involved in the decision as owner of Pimlico. "And it was roundly criticized in the media. It kept producing anomalous results. The owner of the loser of the Belmont Stakes would many times be standing there at the end of the series accepting a check for $1 million."
De Francis added that when the bonus was created "the Triple Crown was under attack. But now, it has solidified its position as the No. 1 event in racing."
No serious injuries resulted yesterday in a three-horse spill in Laurel's third race. Two jockeys, Austreberto Salazar and Jorge Milan, were taken to an area hospital, but were later released. The incident began with Salazar's mount, Miss Forematt, falling near the three-eighths pole. . . . Alydeed, second in the 1992 Preakness, has been retired from racing and will stand at stud at Brookdale Farm in Kentucky. The 4-year-old colt, whose last race was the Breeders' Cup Sprint, in which he finished 13th, retires with more than $930,000 in earnings. . . . De Francis is expected to decide today if he will accept the horsemen's offer to contribute 2 percent of their handle at the Rosecroft inter-track facility to help pay for costs of the operation. . . . If Laurel-based Forest Wildcat runs well at Aqueduct today in the fourth race, he will make his next start in the Remsen Stakes at the Big A on Nov. 27.