BALTIMORE, MAY 30 -- Pimlico Race Course completed its spring meeting today with a record-breaking mutuel handle for the meeting, and record-breaking crowd and betting figures for Preakness Stakes day.
The 60-day session was the first under the direction of Frank De Francis and his partners Tom and Bob Manfuso, who bought the track from the Cohen family for approximately $30 million on Dec. 31.
Apprentice Kent Desormeaux was the meeting's riding star, winning with 110 mounts -- a pace that has put him atop the national jockeys' standings with nearly 200 winners since the beginning of the year. The 17-year-old native of Louisiana will keep his 5-pound apprentice allowance until Aug. 15.
King Leatherbury was the leading trainer with 37 victories.
Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba made it two for two in his quest to sweep the Triple Crown when he circled horses under Chris McCarron to score a half-length victory over Bet Twice in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, the meeting's high point.
The Preakness day attendance of 87,945 and the mutuel handle of $5,855,753 were records. And the race was simulcast to a record 66 tracks and OTB outlets nationally.
The closing-day feature was the $44,450 Hilltop Stakes won by Arctic Cloud, who withstood a claim of foul by Paul Nicol, the rider of the second-place finisher, Notastar.
Arctic Cloud, ridden by Mario Pino, paid $8.20 after running the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44 2/5 over a "good" track.
Today's crowd of 12,285 wagered $1,499,730 on the 10-race card, bringing the daily average handle to $1,323,559, compared to the previous mark of $1,234,182 set in 1975, a 12.3 percent increase.
"Naturally, I'm pleased," said De Francis. "It's hard to describe the fabulous feeling when we broke several records . . . and being a part of a race like the Preakness, especially following our successful meetings at Laurel. . . . It's a heady wine."
The racing scene moves to Laurel tomorrow for a 23-day meeting. The opening-day feature will pit nine older fillies and mares in the $40,000-added Pinafore Handicap at six furlongs. Racing will be conducted five days a week with Wednesdays and Fridays dark. Post time will be 1:30.