10/06/2002 11:00PM

Bug boy Fogelsonger wins title

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Ryan Fogelsonger, a 21-year-old apprentice rider, closed out the 20-day fall meet at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore with his first jockey's title and 49 wins, 27 better than the next closest rider.

Fogelsonger had two five-win days during the meet, which ended on Saturday. He leads the nation in wins among apprentice riders with 156.

Fogelsonger is the fifth apprentice rider in the last 30 years to win a jockey's title at Pimlico. The others were Chris McCarron in 1974, Ronnie Franklin in 1978, Donnie Miller in 1981, and Kent Desormeaux in 1987. All but Miller were voted the Eclipse Award-winning apprentice rider at year's end.

All-sources handle during the Pimlico meet was up 7 percent compared to the corresponding period last year, from $70.7 million to $75.7 million, according to track officials. The comparison, though, is not entirely valid, because Pimlico held an extended meet last year.

The figures this year also include numbers from Maryland Million Day, the track's second-biggest day of racing (after the Preakness Stakes). Handle on Maryland Million Day, Sept. 21 this year, was $5.4 million. Last year, the Maryland Million was run in mid-October.

Track officials credited the handle gains to an increase in average field size during the meet. With one-quarter of the races during the meet on grass - races that generally attract more runners - the average field jumped to 8.4 from 8 during the same time last year.

Racing in Maryland now heads to Laurel Park outside Washington D.C. For a change, live racing will be conducted on a Tuesday through Saturday schedule through the end of the year, instead of Wednesday through Sunday. Racing will revert to the Wednesday through Sunday schedule at the beginning of 2003, officials said.

Track officials decided to drop live racing on Sunday because of competition from NFL football teams in Baltimore and Washington, officials said. The shift to Tuesday will also allow Laurel to capitalize on a relatively light day for simulcasts.

"We made the decision to experiment with Tuesday racing this fall with the hope that we can build our signal outside the state, while developing a following in Maryland," said Lou Raffetto, the MJC's chief operating officer.