A nationally televised 10-race series for older horses offering $8.25 million in purses and bonuses will begin in 1991, including the Pimlico Special.
The American Racing Championship Series will be composed of distance races with purses of $500,000 or more. The races are to be run on dirt at nine tracks, Belmont Park hosting two of them.
With its inclusion, the May 11 Pimlico Special will revert to a $750,000 purse after becoming Maryland's first $1 million race this year. Joe De Francis, Pimlico's chief executive, said funding of the series would have made it "cost prohibitive" for the track to sustain the purse, which had been raised in 1990 in hopes of enticing Sunday Silence and Easy Goer.
A pool of $1.5 million will be distributed among the four highest point-earners in the series, with bonuses ranging from $750,000 to $150,000. (The top five in each race will receive points on a 10-7-5-3-1 system.) Each participating track will accept simulcasts of the other nine races, revenues from which will fund the bonus.
The ARCS was conceived by Barry Weisbord, president of Matchmaker Racing Services, who sought a way to give thoroughbred racing extended visibility. "I believe that, for most sports fans, the racing season in America begins and ends with the Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup," Weisbord said. "The rest of the year, unless you're a serious racing fan, is a blank screen."
ABC will televise all the races, beginning with the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park Feb. 9 and ending with the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park Sept. 15. There will be no change in the nominating process and no minimum number of starts required.
"I think it can be a great thing," De Francis said from Tucson. "To get that kind of support from national TV is something you can't put a price tag on."
Former Maryland Racing Commission chairman E. William Furey was recovering from major bypass surgery yesterday at Washington Hospital Center. Furey, a senior partner in the Chevy Chase law firm of Furey, Doolan and Abell, is part of a group interested in buying Rosecroft Raceway. . . .
The proposed off-track betting bill backed Tuesday by the joint subcommittee on horse racing would allow up to four satellite facilities statewide. The facilities, to be fashioned after the Sports Palaces of Laurel and Pimlico, would be leased by track operators or privately owned.
Although track officials have discussed the possibility of beaming thoroughbred races to Rosecroft and standardbred races to Pimlico, thoroughbred executive Martin Jacobs said, "That still remains to be dealt with." . . .
Owner Rocco DeMilio's winning streak improved to nine Tuesday with Sir Dance's half-length victory in a $21,000 allowance sprint. No records are known to exist for consecutive races won by an owner.
Prado Returning in Style
Since he ended a six-week absence Tuesday following kidney-related surgery, jockey Edgar Prado has won with three of nine mounts. His victory aboard Silver Vein improved trainer John Hartsell's winning percentage to 38.5, behind Ben Perkins Jr. and Howard Wolfendale. . . .
The General George Stakes and Barbara Fritchie Handicap will be run on the same card next year as part of a "Winter SprintFest" at Laurel. The seven-furlong, $200,000 races were set for Feb. 16 as Laurel announced its 1991 winter schedule, which includes the first $50,000-added Northern Wolf Handicap on Jan. 19. . . .
The Aga Khan announced he is removing his 90 horses from England after Aliysa failed a postrace drug test and was stripped of her 1989 Epsom Oaks victory. One of England's foremost owners and breeders, he disputed the findings and said his horses will be transferred to France and Ireland. . . .
Im Radiant, who collapsed from exhaustion after her previous race, won a $16,000 claimer yesterday as the 5-2 co-favorite.
Date ..... Track ............ Race ................... Purse
Feb. 9 ... Gulfstream Park .. Donn Handicap .......... $500,000
March 9 .. Santa Anita ...... Santa Anita Handicap ... $1 million
April 13 . Oaklawn Park ..... Oaklawn Handicap ....... $500,000
May 11 ... Pimlico .......... Pimlico Special ........ $750,000
June 8 ... Belmont Park ..... Nassau County Handicap . $500,000
June 29 .. Hollywood Park ... Hollywood Gold Cup ..... $1 million
July 20 .. Arlington ........ To be announced ........ $500,000
Aug. 10 .. Del Mar .......... Pacific Classic ........ $1 million
Sept. 1 .. Monmouth Park .... Iselin Handicap ........ $500,000
Sept. 15 . Belmont Park ..... Woodward Stakes ........ $500,000