12/21/2001 12:00AM

Group suggests ways to boost state's handle

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Racing dates in Virginia are not as plentiful as many expected before the 1997 opening of Colonial Downs, the state's only parimutuel track. But there remains an abundance of optimism among the commonwealth's breeders and owners.

"We are banking on positive news on ways to increase handle in Virginia," says Debbie Easter, president of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association and general manager of Albemarle Stud in Free Union, Va.

The recent presentation from a task force of racing industry and other business leaders to the Virginia Racing Commission recommends eight ways to achieve that goal, including eliminating the law that mandates 150 days of live racing and instead allowing the commission to set the dates, raising the number of satellite wagering facilities to 16, regulating account wagering, and authorizing the commission to allocate administrative surplus funds for marketing and promotion of racing and breeding.

The VTA, which receives 1 percent of the state's total handle for the Breeders Fund, also continues to find inventive ways to disperse funds to breeders and owners of Virginia-breds and to Virginia stallion owners. Fund money is awarded to registered horses who not only win races at Colonial Downs, but also at Charles Town, the Maryland tracks and, for the first time this year, at Delaware Park, where two stakes restricted to Virginia-breds were held.

These are encouraging signs to those who have supported the breeding industry in the state since well before the advent of Colonial Downs.

"People want the opportunity to breed quality horses in Virginia," said Easter. And stallion owners are eager to comply.

Expelled relocates from Kentucky

Albemarle's most recent addition is Expelled, who moves from Wimbledon Farm in Kentucky. A dark bay, nearly black 9-year-old stallion, Expelled arrived at Albemarle on Dec. 14 and immediately settled in. "He's a delight to deal with," said Easter.

Expelled, by Explodent out of Social Lesson, by Forum, was bred and raced by Juddmonte Farms, which retains a part interest. A Grade 1 winner in this country and a group winner in France, Expelled excelled on the turf. He won the first two starts of his career at 2, both at five furlongs in France, including the Group 3 Prix du Bois.

Shipped to the U.S. and placed in the care of Bobby Frankel, Expelled won allowances at Belmont Park and Santa Anita before making his U.S. stakes debut in the 1997 Grade 1 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar. Leading the entire 1 1/8 miles, Expelled held off El Angelo to win by a length.

In his final season of competition, Expelled was twice stakes-placed. He retired with seven victories, a second, and three thirds from 17 starts and earnings of $406,188.

Juddmonte and Frankel campaigned Expelled's talented full brother Exbourne as well. A Grade 1-winning millionaire who was classic-placed in England, Exbourne displayed remarkable courage after a catastrophic training injury and went on to sire three crops before his death in 1996. He is represented by 22 percent stakes horses from 81 foals.

Expelled is also a half-brother to group winner Top Socialite, who competed successfully in England, Ireland, France, and the U.S., winning seven stakes, and finishing second in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and third in the Group 1 Irish 1000 Guineas. Another half-sister, stakes-placed Towering Success, is the dam of millionaire Affirmed Success.

Expelled's first crop will be yearlings in 2002. Six of his foals sold this fall, averaging more than $26,000. Advertised for $6,500 in Kentucky in 2002, he will stand for $5,000 at Albemarle.