Maryland's thoroughbred racing circuit, which has shifted sites three times in four weeks, takes root for the remainder of the year as Laurel Race Course begins a 76-day fall meeting today. The 10-race card begins at 1 p.m.

The day's richest race is the $60,000 Queen Empress Stakes, a one-mile turf race invented in 1988 as a precursor to the Selima Stakes, part of the two-day International Turf Festival that takes place next month. The Queen Empress drew a cast of 11 2-year-old fillies, with Private Treasure the early choice.

A New Jersey-bred, Private Treasure won Atlantic City's Mermaid Stakes by two lengths in her only grass start. She'll be ridden by Craig Perret, who returns to Maryland after his three-victory performance on Maryland Million Day Sept. 9.

Challengers include Ameri Allen, winner of the Maryland Lassie, and Fashion Miss, who finished a strong second in the Fair Star Stakes after being squeezed at the start.

Update on OTB

Maryland's Off-Track Betting Committee met with industry leaders in Timonium yesterday and intends to bring recommendations for OTB legislation before the Maryland Racing Commission as early as next month, according to Allan Levey.

"The number one thing that came out of today's meeting was that everybody wants it," said Levey, a racing commissioner and member of the OTB Committee. "It's necessary to the future of Maryland racing."

Levey said the committee will recommend OTB parlors fashioned after the Sports Palaces of Laurel and Pimlico. "We have to make it as comfortable and as appealing as we can," he said.