Horseplaying has been a video game at Laurel Race Course the past three months, but it's time to change the station. Laurel goes from off-track to live track today as it begins a 31-day meeting at 1 p.m.
Today's 10-race card brings the $60,000 Politely Stakes and a formidable 3-year-old filly in Big Pride, who has sprinted to three stakes victories in Florida by a collective 16 1/2 lengths. Nine other Maryland-breds, including Saratoga Spark and She's A Champ, will have a chance to defy her at six furlongs.
Trained by Sonny Hine, Big Pride had an easy time in the April 4 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park, her most recent start. She finished 6 1/2 lengths in front of her closest chaser, Crowned, who was the champion Maryland-bred juvenile filly last year.
Earlier on the program, Keith Desormeaux will make his debut as a Maryland trainer when Longsufrin' Charles tries $20,000 claimers. Desormeaux, the older brother of record-setting jockey Kent Desormeaux, trained horses in Louisiana before working here as an assistant to trainer Charlie Hadry.
Except for July 4, Laurel will not operate Monday and Wednesday. The meeting runs through July 24.
Racing Commission Adds Laboratories
The Maryland Racing Commission unanimously approved a measure yesterday that accredits five independent laboratories for confirmatory testing of postrace blood and urine samples. Such a need arose after several split samples deemed positive by the Maryland Racing Commission's laboratory were disputed by an outside lab that does not specialize in equine testing.
A split sample found negative by any of the five recognized labs will be binding. The accredited labs, approved by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, are Cornell University, Ohio State University, the University of Kentucky, Dalare Associates of Pennsylvania and Bioquest Laboratories of Delaware.
Maryland harness racing executive Jim Murphy appeared before the commission seeking interpretation of a law that subjects Delmarva Downs and its horsemen to additional withholdings of about 1 percent each if the track's average daily mutuel handle exceeds $166,000. Since Delmarva began cross-simulcasting with Rosecroft Raceway three weeks ago, its average handle is about $209,000, according to Murphy. He said the track handle on its own races is about $145,000, for which it would not be liable for the greater takeout.
Murphy questioned the intent of the legislation, and told the commission that the bite could offset advantages of simulcasting. However, he said the track will not make any adjustments in the interim.
Yesterday's meeting was the last for commissioners Roger Scullin and Frank Wells, who were not reappointed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer earlier this year. They are to be replaced July 1 by Allan Levey and Carol McGowan. . . .
Tuesday, Robert "Mac" McWhorter, the leading apprentice at Thistledown, won his first race since transferring here. He put Rose Hill Billy on the lead, and the 3-year-old easily held on for a $14 win mutuel.