ANNAPOLIS, JULY 20 -- Maryland Department of Licensing and Regulation Secretary William A. Fogle Jr. has reversed his department's opposition to a plan for intertrack betting between Laurel and Pimlico race courses, but won't say what caused his change of heart.

Fogle's department is asking a General Assembly joint committee to approve emergency regulations that would allow racing fans at Laurel to watch simulcasts of races at the Baltimore track, and bet on those races with the mutuel pools tied into those at Pimlico.

The Maryland Racing Commission approved such a measure this month, but the licensing department's approval is necessary before the request can be heard by the Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee.

Frank De Francis, owner of the Laurel and Pimlico tracks, said the committee would be asked to authorize a six-week experiment, which would begin Sept. 8. There is no estimate on how much the state would make from the intertrack betting.

The Licensing and Regulation Department's action is unusual because just three months ago it turned down the racing commission's plan to allow Pimlico to simulcast its Preakness Day program to Laurel patrons, citing time constraints and saying the plan did not fall under a 1984 bill allowing telephone betting.

Racing commission executive director Ken Schertle said the main problem with the request for the simulcast on the day of the Preakness -- one of racing's triple-crown races -- was that there was not enough time to work out the details of what could be a complicated betting process.

But department assistant secretary Joseph E. Owens said at the time that "frankly, this venture does not come under that {1984} law."

Owens said today that he had not been involved in the department's decision to approve the simulcast plans. He said the department was relying on an assistant attorney general's opinion, which had been available at the time of the Preakness decision, in forwarding the plan to the legislative committee.

Fogle's spokesman Bruce Bortz said he could not comment on the department's decision, or what caused the apparent reversal.

The Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review Committee turned down a proposal last week from Fogle's department for emergency banking regulations, which some critics say was an attempt to short-circuit the legislative process.

Track owner De Francis said he doesn't expect problems with the committee. "I really envision no stumbling block," he said, adding

that the committee is "very much for economic development."

He added that he was now glad the department had turned down his earlier request to simulcast the Preakness because it was an "11 1/2 hour" idea that needed more work.

De Francis is considered an influential player in state politics and is close to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, but he said he didn't have to enlist Schaefer's support to get the department's approval of the simulcast plan.

"Absolutely not," he said, adding that "all I've gotten is total cooperation" from the department.