Laurel to resume live Sunday racing


Live Sunday racing will return to Laurel Race Course on Dec. 26.

Track operator Joe De Francis experimented with running simulcasts only on Sundays since NFL games affected live cards last year as much as 20 percent when the Washington Redskins had a home game.

But De Francis said that the experiment has pretty much been "a wash."

Not many people could have predicted how badly the Redskins would perform this season, posting a 2-7 record, the team's worst start in 30 years.

Wednesday replaced Sunday as a live racing day and the result has been disappointing. Handle for the two Wednesdays so far has been about $1 million, compared to $1.3 million for comparative Sundays in November last year. Simulcast-only cards on Wednesdays usually produce $400,000 to $500,000 handles and the simulcast-only Sunday cards in the past couple of weeks have netted handles in the $700,000 to $800,000 range, De Francis said.

"So it evens itself out," he added. "On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say the experiment has been a 5."

De Francis said that Laurel won't return to Sunday live cards before Dec. 26 because "we've already announced our schedule up to that point, and don't want to change it now."

The experiment has had a negative effect on the purse account since horsemen make more off of live rather than simulcast handle. The account already shows a $2.5 million overpayment, which is starting to concern horsemen who think a purse cut is inevitable, though De Francis says otherwise.

Maryland-Bred Day?

When Josephine Gleis of Newport Beach, Calif., instructed her trainer, Ian Jory, to claim a Maryland-bred 2-year-old filly by Storm Cat out of Caromine at Santa Anita Park last month for $50,000, she thought that if the filly turned out to be a good claim, she could have some fun with her and fly her across country to run in the Maryland Million next fall.

Gleis had a fun experience a couple of years ago at Laurel when her colt, Fly Til Dawn, won the Washington D.C. International.

But though the filly is a Maryland-bred (foaled at the Green Willow Farm of Ron and Carolyn Green in Westminster), she's not a Maryland Million eligible since she is sired by a Kentucky stallion, Storm Cat, one of the hottest young sires in the country. Maryland Million starters must be offspring of Maryland stallions.

But now Gleis, and many other owners like her, might have an opportunity to compete on a lucrative restricted race card with their Maryland breds.

The Maryland Horse Breeders' Association is considering grouping a bunch of its spring stakes, such as the Federico Tesio Stakes and Geisha Handicap, on a Maryland-Bred Day only card, which would give Maryland breeders two big days a year to shoot for -- Maryland Million and Maryland-Bred Day.

That way, Maryland breeders who try to upgrade their stock by breeding to Kentucky stallions also will have a showcase for their products and it could give Maryland racing a good day to attract out-of-state owners such as Gleis to the local tracks.

OTB to Hagerstown?

Maryland Jockey Club officials were in Hagerstown last week scouting locations for what could be the state's fifth off-track betting parlor.

The Western Maryland town had been considered for a site earlier this year, but negotiations fell through with Frank Turner, a local businessman who owns the Ramada Inn and Convention Center.

Meanwhile, no date has yet been set for a public hearing for the proposed fourth OTB site in Colonial Beach, Va., an outlet built on a pier in Maryland waters of the Potomac.

Gillet headed for England

'Chase Update, a publication devoted to steeplechasing and co-written by former Baltimore radio sportscaster Audrey Korotkin and her husband, Don Clippinger, reports that Monkton trainer Joe Gillet is headed to England next month to run his horse Motorcade at Cheltenham Race Course.

Motorcade, owned by Skip Crawford of Potomac and ridden by Joe Delozier III, is the top first-year jumper in the country this year and will run in a Sport of Kings Novice Hurdle stakes.

Breeders' Cup ratings

The 1993 Breeders' Cup received a 3.4 rating and a 9 share, up 13 percent from 1992, when the broadcast netted a 3.0 and an 8, according to the Thoroughbred Racing Communications newsletter.

The ratings are the highest since 1989, but still are below the Triple Crown series.

Total wagering on the seven Breeders' Cup races established a North American single-day record handle of more than $79.8 million. More than $67.7 million was wagered at 730 simulcast sites in the United States and Canada.


Trainer Shug McGaughey's advice for the International Turf Festival at Laurel? Return the Washington D.C. International to the 1 1/4 -mile distance and flip-flop dates with the Maryland Million, scheduling the Turf Festival in early October, a month before the Breeders' Cup and between Belmont Park's Super Saturdays. . . . Jockeys Stewart Elliott and Tracy Allen have switched their track from Laurel to Philadelphia Park. . . . Andrew G. P. Hobbs, owner of Rollicking Stakes winner Canton River, started a family dynasty about 20 years ago with the $6,000 purchase of the filly Family Gallery. He said he bought the filly on the advice of Laurel horseman Joe Aitcheson. From the female descendants of Family Gallery, Hobbs has bred numerous stakes winners such as Under Oath, China Bound and Canton River. . . . Inger Drysdale, wife of trainer Neil Drysdale, said that Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Hollywood Wildcat came out the race "like she had never even run in it." Mrs. Drysdale added: "We hope to be in Kentucky next spring [for the Derby], but the horse we have hopes for still has to break his maiden." . . . In addition to Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Brocco, another top West Coast Derby hopeful is Numerous, a Mr. Prospector colt trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Charlie Whittingham. Duca, the stablemate to Brocco and a winner last weekend at Santa Anita, was sold by Pennsylvania bloodstock agent Kip Elser. . . . Thoroughbred blood stock sales are being held at the Timonium Fairgrounds today as well as next weekend. Local bloodstock agent Don Litz is selling 80 head next weekend, including some horses owned by Morgan and Janet Wayson.

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