Colonial Downs, the first thoroughbred track in Virginia, is under construction in New Kent, but action there next summer will be restricted.
"We'll have a limited meet in 1996. It could be two days or 10 days. That's going to be up to them [the Virginia Racing Commission]," said Arnold Stansley, the Toledo, Ohio, harness operator who was awarded the license for Colonial Downs.
The licensing decision is being appealed in a lawsuit by a rival group, the Virginia Jockey Club, delaying final approval of the license and extensive racing.
Stansley plans pari-mutuel betting at the shortened stand late next summer. "It won't be a tent meet," he said. "We'll have pavilions and a regular meeting."
Extensive work at the site has been completed on the dirt-track surface, parking lots and roadways.
Virginia racing will be launched with simulcast wagering at off-track state betting parlors in Chesapeake, Hampton and Richmond.
The timetable for completion of the track is "14 months after the appeal is over," Stansley said. "We must have the facility built by then."
The Maryland Jockey Club is scheduled to operate the Virginia circuit for Stansley but will have no direct involvement until the track is going full blast.
Stansley said a contract between him and MJC president Joe De Francis has been signed, ending talk of a rift between the two.
However, De Francis said he believes operating a limited meeting "would be a big mistake." Since the law demands that live racing be held within one year after the license was issued, the only resort is to get the law revoked or amended.
In 1997, Colonial Downs' schedule is to include 102 thoroughbred racing days and 50 days of Standardbred action.
Maryland's live racing would shut down during the period (June-October) that Virginia is conducting its thoroughbred meeting.
Just when it needed one, Northview Stallion Station had a big week.
The Cecil County stud farm had lost two of its key stallions after Private Terms was transferred to Kentucky and Caveat passed away. But Northview rallied strongly when Robert Meyerhoff retired Concern to begin stud duty there, and now the farm awaits the arrival of Rakeen, whose half-brother Rahy sired Serena's Song.
"Rakeen is due to get out of quarantine in a week to 10 days," said Northview president Richard Golden. "He has already sired three crops in South Africa, and his 2-year-olds will be racing next year."
A son of Northern Dancer, Rakeen originally was purchased as a foal by Sheik Muhammad al Maktoum and raced as a 2-year-old in England, winning two of three starts and finishing second once.
He was sold to an American syndicate, presumably for stud duty in South Africa, but returned to the races and won four more times in nine starts before retiring from competition.
Now 8, Rakeen was a highly prized stud in South Africa.
The chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission, Dr. Allan Levey, was a member of the commission's original task force appointed to study the future impact of casino gambling. That group eventually acceded to one appointed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer, then to the Tydings Commission.
"We're really concerned about what's going on in Delaware," said Levey, referring to the slot machines scheduled to open at that state's tracks.
"If their conservative estimates are right, Delaware is going to be able to increase purses dramatically and horsemen from here are going to be very tempted to take their horses up there for more money.
"We would hope the Maryland legislature looks at that very closely."
De Francis said he would "definitely go up and survey" Delaware's operation when it opens.
'96 Derby choice
In its preliminary future-book odds for the 1996 Kentucky Derby, Caesars Palace listed Unbridled's Song as a 15-1 favorite.
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner is the son of former champion 3-year-old colt Unbridled, who won the 1990 Derby and went on to win nearly $4.5 million.
Unbridled's Song is at Gulfstream Park in Florida, preparing for his first 3-year-old start.
Cobra King was listed second at 17-1, followed by Hennessy, Ide and Devil's Honor, all at 20-1.