05/28/2001 11:00PM

Expanded simulcasting is governor's signature away


AUBURN, Wash. - A bill that would expand simulcasting in Washington is awaiting the signature of Gov. Gary Locke.

If it is signed into law, Senate Bill 5407 would remove restrictions on simulcasting during a race meet, allowing for unlimited simulcasting at Washington tracks for 14 hours a day, five days a week. Currently, Washington tracks are allowed to offer simulcast wagering while a meet is being conducted on only one full card per day on race days and on two full cards per day on non-race days, with a limit of five days of wagering per week.

SB 5407 was sought by Playfair, a racetrack in Spokane, which is in competition with a simulcast facility in nearby Post Falls, Idaho. That facility has lured away many of Playfair's biggest bettors, and the track hopes to bring those patrons back with the aid of expanded simulcasting. Emerald Downs did not actively support the bill, but intends to utilize it if it becomes law. Neither track has finalized the expanded simulcast schedule it will offer to fans, but Emerald Downs president Ron Crockett said Emerald will probably import six cards per day - two in the morning, two in the afternoon, and two at night.

SB 5407, which required a 60 percent majority, passed the House last week by a vote of 61-32. It had earlier passed the Senate by a vote of 32-9. If it is signed by Gov. Locke, who has given no indication of his intent, it will take effect 90 days after the end of the special session, which closed on May 24. That would make Aug. 24 the first day that expanded simulcasting would be available at Emerald Downs, which closes its current meeting Sept. 15.

The simulcast bill had been stymied in the House because of concerns that it would be considered an expansion of gambling, which would open the door for mandatory renegotiation of all compacts signed with the state's Indian tribes. Those concerns were quelled by adding language stating that the intent of the bill was to protect live racing, and by attaching a "null and void" clause. That clause stipulates that if any federal or state judge rules that the new law constitutes an expansion of gambling, the law will be null and void.

They're off, you lose

Sunday's Kent Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Emerald Downs was a humbling reminder that there are no sure things in racing. Shandra Smiles looked like the next best thing to a sure thing off her ultra-impressive win in the 6 1/2-furlong Federal Way Handicap, but she hit the side of the gate in the one-mile Kent and got away last. Though she recovered to reach contention on the final turn, Shandra Smiles tired badly in the stretch to be beaten nearly 30 lengths by Que Facil Corazon, who defeated Silver Echo by a half-length in a leisurely 1:38.40.

Que Facil Corazon was the longest shot in the Kent's five-horse field at 18-1, but she had overcome longer odds than that to reach the track. Owner and breeder Barbara Ratcliffe reported that Que Facil Corazon, a Mr. Easy Money filly, lost most of her lower jaw during surgery to remove a cancerous tumor when she was a yearling.

Que Facil Corazon is trained by Lyle Stark and was ridden on Sunday by Ben Russell, who notched five wins on the 10-race card to become the fifth Emerald Downs rider to accomplish that feat.

Shandra Smiles emerged from the race with filling in her hip from hitting the gate, said trainer Steve Bullock. He said he doesn't know when She will be able to return to training.

Jumron Won wins again

Monday's 6 1/2-furlong Pepsi-Cola Handicap for 3-year-old colts and geldings was a much more predictable affair, with 6-5 Jumron Won winning his fifth local stakes. Jumron Won won by 1 1/4 lengths over Tactical Allusion in a fast 1:15.60.

Under Javier Matias, Jumron Won raced well back in third while Danzilation and Sabertooth set sizzling fractions of 22 seconds and 44.60, then moved with authority to take command in the upper stretch and was never seriously challenged.

* Charles Stubbs of Port Orchard, Wash., won Monday's Win-a-Jockey Sweepstakes and chose leading rider Ben Russell to represent him throughout the Emerald Downs meet. Stubbs will receive 1 percent of Russell's purse earnings at the meeting, which already amount to nearly $300,000.