BALTIMORE, SEPT. 25 -- At a time when Pimlico Race Course has reduced purses for the remainder of its meeting, track owner Frank De Francis today announced that Triple Crown Productions has reached an agreement to hold a lottery based on the outcome of next year's Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Triple Crown Productions, a joint venture of the Maryland Jockey Club, Churchill Downs and the New York Racing Association, signed a five-year agreement with GTECH Corp., a predominant lottery company. GTECH will design the lottery and attempt to market it internationally. Each state lottery agency would have to approve it.

Although the game's format has not been determined, De Francis said the rub-off tickets likely would be sold at state lottery outlets in March 1988 -- two months before the Kentucky Derby -- and might feature numbers or names of horses (after final Triple Crown nominations are made). Winners might have to correctly select the top two or three numbers/horses in each Triple Crown race, De Francis said.

"The reason why the lottery is so enthused is that we have something that will sustain natural interest for a period of months," De Francis said. "The reason why we're interested in the lottery is that it will bring a marketplace of interest to our fans in the Triple Crown. And fans constantly want something different."

De Francis said profits will be divided evenly among Triple Crown hosts: Pimlico, Churchill Downs and New York's Belmont Park.

Today marked Triple Crown Productions' second major revelation in five days. On Monday, it was announced that Chrysler Motors signed a two-year contract as corporate sponsor of the Triple Crown races.

But all was not upbeat at Pimlico today. With its sluggish betting handle, the track has reduced its daily purses by about $13,000 for the meet's remaining 18 days.

De Francis blamed the reduction on the state's ruling against intertrack wagering. He sought approval to simulcast Pimlico's races to Laurel this meeting.

"This just never had to happen," De Francis said. "The purse structure that we developed for the September and October days at Pimlico were predicated on a $1.1 million mutuel handle. But in studying these past figures, we well recognized the need to have simulcasting.

"Simulcasting would have created 174 new jobs; not only were those jobs lost, but we would have generated over $342,000 over the 33-day meeting. That would have been more than enough to cover us."

For the 14 days since Timonium's meeting, Pimlico averaged $963,036 in wagers per day; last year, it averaged $837,095, but with one fewer race. Per capita wagering has fallen from $124 to $116.

Most horsemen seemed to accept the cut without much bitterness. Said veteran trainer Dick Delp: "It's all based on a certain percentage {of the handle}, so you can't argue with it."

De Francis cited several reasons for the low handle. He is particularly concerned that daily 10-race cards might be diluting mutuel pools.

"I don't think they're really helping us," De Francis said of 10-race programs. "I plan to talk to {racing secretary Larry Abbundi} about the possibility of going to a nine-race card on weekdays and keeping 10 on weekends."