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Maryland tracks show profit in '94


Maryland's major thoroughbred racetracks will report today a profit of $1.2 million for 1994, the first profit for the tracks since 1988 and a dramatic reversal of the previous year's loss of $7.2 million.

The annual report to the Maryland Racing Commission will show record wagering on live and simulcast races of $461 million left Pimlico Race Course with a profit of $1.8 million, enough to overcome a loss of $609,894 at Laurel Park, said Joe De Francis, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, corporate parent of the tracks.

About half of 1993's losses were blamed on one-time charges, including settlement of disputes with former track investors and related legal expenses.

"We think 1994 was a great year," De Francis said.

The year, which began with a harsh winter and the weather-related loss of several racing days, ended with a strong Preakness and double-digit increases in wagering credited to the success of satellite betting parlors and out-of-state races that were simulcast.

Also helping the tracks last year were renegotiated terms on bank debt and cuts in executive compensation mandated by the banks. De Francis, whose high salary was the subject of criticism in recent years, said he took no salary last year, but plans to do so this year.

The tracks have lost nearly $10 million since 1988.

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