Panel rejects plan to pair Md. Million with International


The Maryland Million and the Washington D.C. International are two distinct thoroughbred racing events that shouldn't run on the same day.

That's the consensus of the executive committee of the Maryland Million, which Monday turned down a proposal by Laurel/Pimlico operator Joe De Francis to run both races on the same card.

"No one really liked the idea," said Richard Wilcke, the Maryland Million's executive director. "The feeling is that the Maryland Million is a successful regional event. That it's all-Maryland, and that it would be a mistake to bring in a Grade I, $600,000 international race and run it on the same card. How do you tell a sponsor that the Maryland Million feature is a $150,000 race and then say, oh yeah, there is also a $600,000 race later on in the card?"

De Francis said "our idea had its genesis when moving the Maryland Million from early September to early October turned out to be phenomenally successful last year. It was great for the Maryland Million, but it was also tough on the International, which was two weeks later. It's hard to promote two big events that close together and energize fans.

"Our feeling was that maybe we could have our own Super Saturday like the New York tracks and combine both events. At the same time, I certainly understand the Maryland Million's concern that the two events are not compatible. But I thought it was worth a try to present the idea."

Since the New York Racing Association is moving the date of its Super Saturday -- a grouping on one card of some its championship fall events -- to Oct. 8, the Maryland Million is requesting a date change to Oct. 1, instead of its original Oct. 8 date.

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