The Fair Hill Race Course in Cecil County is cutting back from two to one day of racing this year unless a beneficiary can be found to sponsor the extra card.
Gregg Morris, the track's director, said that Fair Hill's longtime beneficiary, the Union Hospital in Elkton, has decided to "pull back and put all of its resources into sponsoring one race day a year. Naturally, they are picking the most lucrative card, which is Memorial Day [May 29]."
That means there will be no Fair Hill fall meet this year unless a new sponsor is found.
Morris said that he is attempting to find an operator who could take advantage of the seven other days of racing that Fair Hill is legislated to conduct throughout the year. The track is talking to another area hospital that is considering picking up the recently vacated fall date.
Morris said that it takes a minimum of about $65,000 to underwrite a day's racing at Fair Hill. "That includes about $40,000 for purses for eight races and another $25,000 in operating expenses if pari-mutuel betting is going to be offered," he said.
Morris added that he is not canceling Fair Hill's traditional fall date with the state racing commission "until we know for sure we are not going be able to run."
Union Hospital is being added as the beneficiary of the Fair Hill International, a weekend festival in late October that offers an internationally ranked three-day equestrian and combined driving event.
Two OTBs on 'shaky ground'
According to a report released by the Maryland Racing Commission at its regular monthly meeting yesterday at Timonium, the future is uncertain for two of Maryland's four off-track betting outlets.
Jimmy Bomba, owner of the Poor Jimmy's outlet, which is leased to the Maryland Jockey Club, told the commissioners that he cannot continue his operation under the current arrangement that he has with Pimlico/Laurel. The report also stated that profits at The Shoals in Cambridge, are "only marginal . . . and the operators are uncertain as to the future operation of the OTB facility."
However, John H. "Jack" Mosner Jr., the former commissioner who chaired the panel, said that restaurant operations at the facilities were only marginal in pre-OTB days and that the introduction of pari-mutuel betting has helped them to stay in business.
Another Norstep appeal
The Maryland Racing Commission next month will re-hear an appeal filed by trainer Bob Bailes on the disqualification of his filly, Norstep, from the March 11 Politely Stakes.