A futuristic "sports palace" featuring a host of technological innovations will be introduced at Laurel Race Course when it begins its fall meeting, the track's president, Frank DeFrancis, announced yesterday.

Located at the north end of the grandstand, the $2 million, 20,000-square foot project will feature a video racing library, a computerized handicapping center, two theater lounges and four minitheaters. Admission will be $5.

Construction began two months ago, and DeFrancis said he expects it to be completed when Laurel reopens Sept. 22.

"I think it's incumbent to . . . make our racing patron feel that he has the latest in high-tech equipment at his disposal," he said. "It will make his handicapping of the races, his day at the races a more enjoyable experience."

The new complex should appeal to every classification of horseplayer. For trip handicappers, the video library will offer tapes of every thoroughbred race run in Maryland within six months.

The patron will request the tape by date, then view it on one of 10 monitors. DeFrancis said he will seek Maryland Racing Commission approval to show the judges' view of the race as well.

To bettors who thrive on figures, the handicapping center will feature nine computer terminals containing statistics on jockeys, trainers, horses and post positions.

The user of the terminal can ascertain a trainer's record with favorites, his record after claiming a horse or his record when raising or dropping a horse in class. He can look up jockeys' records in sprint races, grass races and races in mud. Instructors will be present during the first few weeks of operation.

The theater lounges will feature swivel chairs and specialty foods. The day's races will be shown on a 15-foot projection screen; a major sporting event will be aired on another 15-foot screen. With a 40-foot stand-up bar, the lounges will accommodate up to 700 people.

The four minitheaters will show sporting events from the United States and elsewhere and will feature two eight-foot electronic message boards displaying sports scores and highlights, supposedly within five minutes of action. Each theater will accommodate 40 to 50 people.


Nothing Sweeter, who went off at 9 to 1, advanced from fourth place in the stretch to defeat favored Ridan Prospector and five other fillies in yesterday's $11,500 feature race at Bowie Race Course.

Ridden by Greg Hutton, Nothing Sweeter rallied between horses, caught front-running Ridan Prospector (6-5) with a half-furlong left and went on to a 1 1/2-length victory, covering six furlongs in 1:11 1/5.