It's too early to tell if the late summer and fall meet at Pimlico Race Course will be curtailed next year, track president Joe De Francis said yesterday, after the track wound up its 1995 live racing season.
The gross amount bet during the 42 days at Old Hilltop rose 4.7 percent over the similar August and September period last year. Track and horsemen's revenues each grew about $245,000.
But the summer and fall dates at Pimlico still trail the other four seasonal meets at Pimlico and Laurel Park and there has been some discussion about dropping live racing at Pimlico during this period next year.
"We'll be looking at the numbers in the next couple of weeks to see if we will cut out some of the live days next year or adopt another plan, such as taking week-long breaks between each of the five meets," De Francis said. He plans to present a schedule of proposed 1996 racing dates to owners and trainers at the November meeting of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.
The betting figures at the Pimlico meet continued to substantiate trends that began at the Maryland thoroughbred tracks earlier this year -- a distinct shift of betting action away from the Maryland live product to out-of-state simulcasts. The handle on Maryland's live races declined 22.8 percent at the recently completed Pimlico meet, but the simulcast action increased 32.4 percent.
De Francis said, however, that the money lost on the live card locally is made up by gamblers at out-of-state sites betting on the Maryland card. That figure rose 26.4 percent during the last 42-day period.
"The important thing is that the gross handle keeps rising," De Francis said. "As long as that continues, we're in good shape."
Marathon horse sale today
The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Co. starts serving breakfast to potential horse buyers at 8:30 a.m today at the Timonium Fairgrounds.
The auction of about 340 thoroughbred yearlings -- about half of them Maryland-breds -- starts at 10 a.m. and is expected to continue for an 11-to-12-hour session.
Horses by such sires as Halo, Theatrical, Wild Again, Allen's Prospect, Polish Numbers, Citidancer and Farma Way are among the offerings.
"It's a must sale for local horsemen," said Fasig-Tipton executive vice president Mason Grasty.