Track operator Joe De Francis is considering a plan that will keep the racing strip and half of the stable area open for training this winter at Pimlico Race Course.
De Francis adopted a similar policy in 1993, but last year shut down the facility for training from December through mid-March because there were not enough horses to warrant keeping it open. Pimlico horsemen were relocated to Laurel Park or the Bowie Training Center or sent their horses home. When the track re-opened in April, there was a shortage of animals that were ready to run during Pimlico's spring Preakness meet.
De Francis said yesterday that he has been getting feedback from general manager John Mooney and racing director Lenny Hale that indicates that more horses will be stabled in Maryland this winter and hopes that means field sizes will be larger next spring.
Hale said yesterday that in addition to some new outfits shipping in, trainers on the grounds have said they plan to bring in more horses and that there appear to be fewer animals going to Florida this winter for the Gulfstream Park meet. A recent increase in the number of live races at Pimlico and greater field sizes seem to support that idea.
De Francis added: "It's a numbers game. We'll learn more in the next few weeks exactly what kind of horse population we'll have this winter and make our plans accordingly."
'Sugar' is winner
Trainer John R. S. Fisher debated whether he should run Erdenheim Farm's Plenty of Sugar yesterday on a deep, cut-up Pimlico turf course.
But he opted to race, and the horse responded with a 1 1/4 -length lTC victory over Logan's Mist. Maryland Million eligibles Oh Nonsense and Mz. Zill Bear, who was the 6-5 favorite, finished third and fourth, respectively.
Ron Cartwright, trainer of Mz. Zill Bear, said that his mare was a victim "of the soft going and [high] weight."
Fisher purchased Plenty of Sugar in Canada last winter for her owner, F. Eugene Dixon Jr. of Philadelphia.