Officials of the state's thoroughbred and harness tracks have begun discussions on the possibility of adopting intertrack wagering involving Pimlico Race Course and Rosecroft Raceway as a first step to off-track betting.
Joe De Francis, president of Laurel and Pimlico race courses, and Jim Murphy, general manager of Rosecroft Raceway and Delmarva Downs, agreed in preliminary talks that existing facilities could be used to handle OTB wagering, at least in its early stages.
Laurel and Pimlico, the thoroughbred tracks that conduct intertrack wagering, could draw on the Northern Virginia market by using Rosecroft in Oxon Hill as an outlet for their races. Rosecroft and its intertrack partner, Delmarva Downs, near Ocean City, would use Pimlico to regain Baltimore patrons lost when Freestate closed last year.
"Joe and I had a fundamental agreement that it's a reasonable approach to take," Murphy said. "This takes care of a major part of the OTB package."
A committee established by the Maryland Racing Commission has told lawmakers it will push for OTB legislation in 1991, and the racing industry appears to have the footing for a unified front. To facilitate such a move, the committee recommended using existing structures rather than new ones.
Under current statutes, Laurel, Pimlico, Rosecroft and Delmarva Downs need only racing commission approval to export their races to other Maryland tracks. Pimlico, however, would require legislative authorization to receive races from Rosecroft or Delmarva.
"The facilities at Pimlico and Rosecroft are geographically situated and physically constructed in such a way that they should be able to serve OTB patrons very well," De Francis said. "Whether in the long term that's the best solution in lieu of constructing OTB facilities is a question we'll be better able to answer at a later time. But we know we've got to expand our ability to serve the public."
Meanwhile, Rosecroft announced it will cease Thursday racing until the first week in March because of a shortage of horses.
Eight Hit Double-Triple
After growing in value for for 13 straight programs, the double-triple was mastered yesterday at Laurel. The third- and fifth-race triples were correctly forecast on eight tickets, each worth $16,740. The card ended with a 6-7-13 triple that paid $22,900 for a $1 ticket. . . .
The Keeneland breeding stock sale has been a boon to needy racing-industry people nationwide. Jim Ryan, the former home builder from Columbia, Md., donated all of his proceeds from the auction to track alcohol and drug abuse programs -- a total of $2.3 million.
Baltic Chill was the biggest of his 19 sellers at $700,000. The 3-year-old filly, who had raced in Maryland under trainer Bill Boniface, will run at least one more year before being bred, owner Heidi Doubleday said. Baltic Chill will be trained by Shug McGaughey. . . .
Laurel and Pimlico officials are talking with Home Team Sports about possibly reviving "The Maryland Racing Show." . . .
Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Safely Kept is scheduled to leave for Florida today. The richest Maryland-bred filly ever ($1,745,986) will race next year at age 5.