03/03/2004 12:00AM

Washington gambling bill goes to House

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PORTLAND, Ore. - A bill supported by Washington's Thoroughbred industry gained key approvals from two legislative committees in recent days and now awaits a vote on the floor of the state's House of Representatives.

Substitute Senate Bill 6481 would legalize advance deposit wagering in Washington. It would also extend full-card simulcast wagering to Emerald's 21 satellite sites, and it would remove restrictions on the days per week and hours per day that parimutuel wagering can be conducted.

The measure was passed out of the House Commerce and Trade committee late last week after three amendments were added. One amendment puts a sunset clause on the advance deposit wagering provisions of the law, allowing those provisions to expire on Oct. 1, 2007. Another prohibits commissioners from wagering on races conducted under the authority of the Washington Horse Racing Commission. The third allows the commission to reduce the minimum ontrack daily handle required to permit a track to disseminate imported simulcasts from $150,000 to $30,000 per day.

The measure made an unanticipated stop on Monday at the House Finance Committee, which held a hearing and passed it on to the House Rules committee by a vote of 6-2. The rules committee will schedule the bill for a floor vote.

The legislation had earlier passed the Senate by a vote of 38-10, but Bob Leichner, the commission's executive secretary, said the measure faces tougher sledding in the House.

"It is beginning to look as though the House will designate this measure as an expansion of gambling, which would mean it needs a supermajority of 60 percent to pass," he said. "It's not a done deal by any means."

Leichner also noted that the bill still faces time pressures, because the legislative session in scheduled to end on March 9. Since the bill was amended in the House, it must return to the Senate to have the amendments approved by that body.

"We're hoping the House will vote on it this week so there is time to complete the process before the session ends," said Leichner.

Star of Elttaes in Governor's Speed

Star of Elttaes, an impressive winner over allowance rivals in his Portland Meadows debut on Feb. 23, will go next in the $10,000 Governor's Speed Handicap at six furlongs on March 20, according to trainer Steve Fisher.

"We were thinking about saving him for Emerald, but he seems to like this track so much that it just makes sense to run him here," said the trainer. "He black lettered in every workout leading up to his race, and then he ran one of his best races."

Star of Elttaes, a 6-year-old who was claimed by owner Amy Thurmond out of a winning effort for $8,000 at Hastings in November, defeated the razor sharp Muscovy by just over a length in 1:05.40 for 5 1/2 furlongs, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 82.

The Governor's Speed, incidentally, is shaping up to be one of best races at the meeting. Divisional leader Yesss is pointing toward the Governor's Speed, which could also bring out Knightsbridge Road. Knightsbridge Road won one stakes and placed in six more as a 3-year-old at Emerald Downs last summer, and he has been training forwardly for trainer Debbie Van Horne.

"He has only worked twice, but he went a half-mile in 49 flat last Friday, and he did it very easily," she said. "He is ahead of where I expected him to be at this time, so I'll go ahead and nominate him for the Governor's Speed. If he makes that race and runs well, we'll take a look at the Portland Meadows Mile."

The Portland Meadows Mile will be run for a purse of $40,000 on April 10.

Crispin misses week after surgery

Jockey Joe Crispin, who trails only Juan Gutierrez in the rider standings here, missed last week's racing while he recovered from hand surgery. Crispin said he injured his left hand in November and had been riding since that time with a finger that locked up when he clenched his fist, such as when he gripped the reins.

"It made it so that I couldn't use my left hand much," he said. "To use it, I had to reach over with my right hand and pop the finger out straight. That hurt so much that it brought tears to my eyes, so I tried to get along whipping right handed as much as possible."

Crispin said he hopes to ride again this weekend.

* A memorial service for trainer Rodney Gibson is scheduled for 1 p.m. on March 9, in the Morris J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion on the grounds of Emerald Downs. Rodney Gibson, the only son of trainer H.R. and Nancy Gibson, died in his sleep at the age of 33 on Feb. 17.