Laurel President John D. Schapiro said yesterday he will not switch the track's current meeting to Pimlico and that he hoped the rain-damaged surface could be repaired in time to resume racing by Wednesday.
The racing strip has been soaked by 8.3 inches of rain since Sept. 21 which forced cancellation of three racing days in the last two weeks. There are a number of soft spots in the front and backstretches.
Several prominent horseman and jockeys have complained about the surface which has worsened near the three-eighths and quarter poles since the cancellation of the opening-day card on Oct. 1.
After a 10 a.m. meeting with the officers of Pimlico Race Course, Schapiro said that his engineering firm of Watkins Associates of Lexington, Ky., had assured him that the track could be repaired well within the two-week period first thought necessary.
Ken Schertle, comptroller at Laurel, said the racing strip would be pared down to its base, which then will be mixed with coarse sand. The regular cushion would be retained since it was the clay base causing the drainage problemm.
Schapiro was asked if the severe problems with the racing strip would affect the $100,000 Selima and Futurity races due within the next two weeks.
"When we finish repairing the track and the local jockeys and horseman indicate they are satisfied, we don't anticipate any problems getting horses to enter those races," he said.
Asked when he thought racing would resume, Schapiro said, "We will draw entries every day beginning tomorrow (Monday) and play it by ear. If the weather holds up, it will be that much sooner we'll be finished and having racing. We know only that Wednesday is the earliest possible date."
The Maryland Racing Commission had had no public comment since the Friday cancellation at Laurel. That regulatory agency could force the switching of racing dates since the state will not be deriving anticipated tax revenue -- about $50,000 a day -- during the interruption of the racing schedule.
Hyman Ravich, trainer of the top filly, Jameela, said that if there was a switch to Pimlico the logistical problem would be great.
"Moving horses to Pimilico for a couple of weeks, then back to Laurel would be tough. And what about workouts; there would be none at Laurel. I don't know how the little guys are going to survive in cases like that."