The Maryland Racing Commission yesterday approved a request by Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer Lou Raffetto for twilight racing at Pimlico Race Course during the spring meet that begins tomorrow.
The commission, gathering for its monthly meeting at Laurel Park, OK'd six twilight days, May 24-25 and 31 and June 1 and 7-8, when racing will begin at 3:15 p.m.
"We experimented with twilight racing at Laurel last August," Raffetto said. "It was extremely successful. We found a different demographic, with families and young people coming in after they'd finished work.
"While that was August, when kids were out of school, we're hoping to see the same change in demographics at Pimlico."
Raffetto said the MJC also will try to increase attendance at Laurel Park, where simulcasting will be available, by offering some of the same promotions it will use at Pimlico in an effort to develop a niche audience later in the day.
"We're just trying to do everything we can to market the facilities," Raffetto said.
Among other issues taken up yesterday by the commission was the approval of a change in a claiming rule designed to help keep more horses in Maryland.
The commission approved an amendment that will allow a licensed owner to claim a horse as long as the owner's trainer has stalls assigned at a Maryland racetrack. An exception will allow an owner without a local trainer to make a claim if he has a horse claimed, so he can replace the horse he lost.
Standard procedure is for an approved regulation to be forwarded to Annapolis, where it is published in the Maryland Register. Interested parties then have 45 days to make comments on the regulation before it is returned to the commission for discussion before a final vote.
Mike Hopkins, the commission's executive director, said the claiming amendment, however, will be fast-tracked on an "emergency basis" and that it should go into effect before the end of the Pimlico meet June 9.