The image of the cigar-chomping horseplayer is about to go the way of the corner bookie.
On Wednesday, Maryland racetracks and off-site betting parlors will comply, like thousands of other businesses in the state, with new government regulations that ban indoor smoking for employees and allow smoking only in restricted areas for patrons.
Cigars and pipes will be prohibited entirely.
"Of all the customer-related issues that go hand-in-hand with this business, this is the single most complex one we've had to deal with," said Laurel/Pimlico operator Joe De Francis. "That's because many of our customers smoke, and the biggest complaint that we get from our nonsmoking fans is the amount of smoke in the building. We have the most up-to-date smoke-eating equipment that you can buy, but you can't suck all of it out."
Smoking had been permitted everywhere at the track except in designated nonsmoking areas.
Starting Wednesday, smoking will prohibited everywhere except in designated smoking areas.
Those areas where smoking will be allowed include all box seats, certain sections in track restaurants and the Sports Palaces at Laurel and Pimlico and in parts of the clubhouse and grandstand seating areas.
One fear is that the Maryland smoking ban will be so severe that fans who want to smoke will go to tracks and OTB outlets in adjoining states such as West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware that don't have such a ban.
"What we've tried to do is strike a balance and allow our fans to smoke in certain areas and at the same time comply with the government regulations," De Francis said.
Fans who smoke in undesignated areas will be asked by security personnel to stop and move outside or to an area where smoking is allowed.
Fillies hurt by injuries
Attrition over the winter in the local 3-year-old filly division has been severe despite the mild weather.
Two stakes-winning fillies, Square Up The Bet and White Cliffs, ended their racing careers after sustaining injuries in the Feb. 26 Notches Traces Stakes.
Square Up The Bet, upset winner in the race, came out of the stakes with a knee injury and has been retired. Her owner-trainer, Josephine Owens, said the horse will be sold as a broodmare prospect "or I'll keep her and breed her myself, probably to Citidancer," Owens added.
White Cliffs, who won the Kattegat's Pride, Marshua and Jameela Stakes during the meet and finished second in the Notches Traces, returned with chips in one of her ankles, according to her trainer, Carlos Garcia. White Cliffs also has been retired and is being bred to Caller I.D. Then she probably will be offered for sale in the breeding stock auctions this fall.
Meanwhile, the 3-year-old fillies Norstep and Quite Proper had useful preps for the April 22 Caesar's Wish Stakes at Pimlico by winning divisions of the Wide Country Stakes yesterday at Laurel Park.
Norstep turned back a determined effort from Special Broad and won the more competitive first division, which was run more than second faster than Quite Proper's second division.
Norstep's chief rival, Oh Summer, skipped the Wide Country and is being given a breather until the Caesar's Wish.
Solid field expected for Tesio
The $150,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico on April 22 is shaping up as a competitive race for area 3-year-olds.
Oliver's Twist and He's Got Gall, who are expected to meet for the first time at Laurel on Saturday in the Private Terms Stakes, are being pointed for the race.
Another expected entry could be Harry and Tom Meyerhoff's Western Echo. Trainer Bud Delp said the 3-year-old colt, who had developed bronchitis during an abortive campaign in Florida over the winter, worked five furlongs in 1 minute, 2 4/5 seconds yesterday at Laurel, finishing the last eighth of a mile in 12 seconds. The colt "scoped clean" afterward, Delp said, and will prep for the Tesio in the five-furlong Harriman Stakes at Pimlico on April 9.
Western Echo won the Laurel Futurity last fall and then missed by a neck to eventual Florida Derby winner Thunder Gulch in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct.
Western Echo's stablemate, Calipha, also worked yesterday, getting five furlongs in 59 4/5 seconds. She also suffered from bronchitis at Gulfstream Park over the winter. But she, too, scoped clean after yesterday's work and will be aimed for a confrontation with Smart 'n Noble in the April 22 Geisha Handicap.
Peggy Augustus' 5-year-old mare, Intriguing, ended her racing career as a maiden yesterday when she finished fourth in Laurel's fifth race. The Deputy Minister mare is due to be bred to 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull. . . . Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke is expected to send eight runners from Fair Grounds to the Maryland tracks this spring. Ed Kenneally trains the horses. Also expected to arrive from the Fair Grounds with five head is Robert Laurin, grandson of Lucien Laurin, who trained Triple Crown winner Secretariat.