Enthusiasts of Maryland's live racing program can rest easier.
Pimlico/Laurel operator Joe De Francis said yesterday that he is not expanding the out-of-state simulcasting menu at Maryland's wagering outlets this summer.
The possible move from six to eight out-of-state signals, coupled with a proposed reduction of live races, was viewed with alarm by horsemen who are afraid such a plan dramatically would reduce wagering on the Maryland tracks' live product and shift the emphasis to the simulcasts. The live card is the chief revenue producer for both horsemen and management, but has suffered in recent weeks from small fields that have caused the live handle to drop as much as 20 percent.
"We're set up to take six signals and we're staying at six signals," De Francis said. "Actually, we won't be taking Freehold [harness track] during the summer, so the number [of out-of-state] signals will be reduced to five."
Field sizes have increased in the last few days since the weekday live card has been cut from nine to eight races and a 40 percent purse bonus was instituted in open dirt races with eight or more betting interests.
De Francis meets tomorrow night in Laurel with horsemen to discuss plans to cut more live races. It's an effort to bolster field size which, he says, will increase live handle.
Godwin wins first stakes
Kim Godwin, no relation to Pimlico's in-house TV personality, Kim Goodwin, won her first added-money race as a trainer yesterday when Earn My Keep edged Atomistic by a head in the $33,700 Royal Vale Stakes.
Godwin bases her operation at Sagamore Farm in Glyndon.