Friday, September 11, 2009


LAUREL, MD. 09-10-09---Live racing returns to Laurel Park Saturday for the fall meeting with a 10-race card, including five on the turf. Opening day features a Bet or No Bet promotion where eight lucky fans can accept a $1,000 win bet or $100 in cash. First post is 1:10 p.m.

The 14-week stand will feature live racing on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons (with Columbus holiday exception) through December 19. The eight Saturday programs in September and October will feature live music and drink specials.

The 57-day schedule is highlighted by the 24th running of the Maryland Million, a 12-race stakes program for Maryland sired horses, on September 26, and the return of Laurel’s marquee race, the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (Grade I), which was not carded in 2008 due to a purse account shortfall, on October 24.

Introduced in 1986, the Maryland Million is a program for the offspring of Maryland-based stallions. Hall of Fame TV Broadcaster Jim McKay originally proposed the concept and remained the Chairman of the Board until his death on June 7, 2008. The day has been officially re-named Jim McKay Maryland Million day. Maryland Delegate Sandy Rosenberg spearheaded the change, sponsoring legislation during the 2009 session of the Maryland General Assembly. The bill passed overwhelmingly in both the Senate and House of Delegates. Governor Martin O’Malley promptly signed it into law.

Possible runners for this year’s races include 2008 winners Cuba, Sweet Goodbye and Celtic Innis plus millionaire Heros Reward. Pre-entries will be announced September 18 with the post position draw held five days later.

The De Francis Dash is one of just three Grade I races contested in Maryland, along with the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, and the historic Pimlico Special. Introduced in 1990, the De Francis Dash is one of the elite six-furlong sprints in the country with four of the 18 winners-Housebuster (1991), Cherokee Run (1994), Smoke Glacken (1997) and Thor’s Echo (2006)-earning Eclipse Award honors for champion sprinter.

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