Rosecroft Raceway signed a temporary agreement with the Maryland Jockey Club last winter that provided a cease fire in the battle over intertrack simulcasting revenue.
But, so far, the pact has not been ratified by the state's thoroughbred horsemen and breeders' groups, and the harness interests are becoming itchy again.
When that happened last winter, Cloverleaf Enterprises, Inc., the owners of Rosecroft, halted simulcasting and everybody lost money for almost two months.
The threat to do that again must be taken seriously. But this time, the atmosphere is entirely different. Maryland Jockey Club president Joe De Francis and the negotiating groups appear to be moving toward a settlement.
"We're doing well in the talks and they're progressing," De Francis said. "Obviously, we're working very hard to finally get this resolved. I hope the harness people can be patient."
De Francis would not elaborate, but the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has agreed to the concept of revenue sharing and is now dickering over how the expense side of the agreement will be structured.
"You have to take it [Rosecroft's position] seriously," said Wayne Wright, executive secretary of the MTHA. "They want to get this going and you can understand why.
"But our talks have been amicable. We just haven't resolved it yet."
Another meeting is scheduled Wednesday, five days after a Rosecroft deadline expired.
Barnett coming to town
Trainer Bobby Barnett, whose base is Louisiana Downs, is expected tomorrow to join his four stakes horses, who shipped to Pimlico on Friday.
The lineup is headed by Oaklawn Handicap winner Precocity, who will challenge Skip Away in the $750,000 Pimlico Special.
Barnett-trained Silent Eskimo will run in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, J.J.'sdream in the Jacob France Stakes, and Little Bit Lucky in the William Donald Schaefer Handicap.
All the horses shipped well, according to groom Jorge Condento.
Infield's muscle beach
The latest addition to the Preakness Day infield lineup is bodybuilding.
Called the Preakness Perfecta Body Classic, the contest will offer $15,000 in prize money, with $5,000 going to the winners in both men's and women's divisions.
Carrie Everly, director of marketing for the Maryland Jockey Club, said judging "will be held on the bandstand, with contestants and fans able to watch on the big-screen TV behind the stage."
The idea is to draw some of the younger fans who might be thinking of skipping the Preakness to attend the HFSstival at RFK Stadium. The contest will run from 11: 30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The next Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic sale will be held at the Timonium pavilion May 18-19, starting at 10 a.m. both days.
There will be 529 horses, all 2-year-olds in training and many sired by prominent national and local stallions, including Mountain Cat, Two Punch, Allen's Prospect, Polish Numbers and Valley Crossing. The young horses will be shown under tack May 14-15.
Latest Delaware numbers
Delaware's three slot machine sites -- Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway -- had their biggest month ever in March, grossing $410.6 million to exceed $1 billion for the first quarter of 1998.
Since December 1995, when the slots went into operation, the gross is nearing $7 billion with 2,580 machines. And the Delaware legislature just approved 2,000 machines at each site, more than doubling the current number.
Pub Date: 5/03/98