“Our last live racing day was Preakness day at Pimlico, so it will be good to be back,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “Expect to see plenty of turf racing during the meet. For the bettors, we are bringing back the JACKPOT PICK 5, which was a very popular for us in May at Pimlico where the Preakness week carryover grew to over $1 million. Since we have been away for the summer, it is important to have a wager that could lead to a major payday.”
One of the races expected in the opening day JACKPOT PICK 5 wager is the $100,000 Jameela Stakes, for Maryland-bred fillies and mares. The racing office will take entries for the September 5 card on Saturday afternoon. Thirty-three sprinters were nominated to the 6-furlong race on the turf course.
Maryland Jockey Club stakes coordinator Coley Blind expects a solid field, including recent stakes winner Colony Club. He said the connections of Bold Affair are considering the race as well. The daughter of Two Punch won three main track stakes in Maryland from March 10 through May 18 but has never been on the grass.
Laurel Park-based trainer Tim Keefe nominated Awesome Flower and English Muffin to the Jameela.
“I am planning on entering Awesome Flower,” Keefe said. “If the race comes up too strong there is an allowance race for her. She’ll certainly be a longshot but we always thought she was better on the grass.”
Awesome Flower, a 3-year-old daughter of Flower Alley, is 1-for-4 this year. She finished sixth in her turf debut at Pimlico on Preakness weekend.
Keefe plans on running Eighttofasttocatch in the $150,000 Japan Racing Association Stakes on Saturday, Sept. 8 as a prep for the Maryland Million Classic, where he is the defending champion. The 6-year-old won the 2011 Japan Racing Association, one of five stakes victories at Laurel for the son of Not For Love. Eighttofasttocatch last ran in the Pimlico Special (G3) on May 18.
“I am very happy to be back,” added Keefe. “We didn’t run too much during the break so we could gear up for this meet. I have a boatload of 2-year-olds ready to run.”
The 69-day fall meeting will include average daily purses of $240,000. The Maryland Horse Breeders Association will provide $25,000 to $50,000 bonuses for Maryland-bred runners in 16 stakes races, meaning the 34 fall stakes could be worth more than $4.1 million.
Chuckas indicated there will be promotions on the majority of Saturday afternoons during the 17-week stand. The highlights include Racing 101 Day At The Races (September 29), Crab Feast (September 29), Track Of Terror-Haunted House and Dance Party (October 26), Oktoberfest (October 27), Laurel Park Cap Giveaway (October 27) and Brew and Bourbon Blow Out (November 17). Visit http://www.laurelpark.com for more information.
From a racing standpoint, the headline events are the 27th running of the Jim McKay Maryland Million Day for the offspring of Maryland-based stallions on Saturday, Oct. 6 and the return of the Fall Festival of Racing three weeks later. That card will feature five stakes races on the turf as well as the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.
“The Maryland Million is the staple event of the Laurel fall meet,” added Chuckas. “Bringing back the Fall Festival of Racing was important to us and we thank the horsemen for working with us to not make it happen and also to be willing to boost the purse of the Dash up $200,000 from a year ago. This will help us draw some of the nation’s top sprinters not going to the Breeders’ Cup the following weekend.”
Laurel Park Fall Meeting Dates:
· September 5-6-7-8
· September 12-13-14-15
· September 19-20-21-22
· September 26-27-28-29
· October 3-4-5-6
· October 8-11-12-13
· October 17-18-19-20
· October 24-25-26-27
· October 31-November 1-2-3
· November 7-8-9-10
· November 14-15-16-17
· November 21-22-23-24
· November 28-29-30-December 1
· December 5-6-7-8
· December 12-13-14-15
· December 19-20-21-22
· December 26-27-28-29
· December 31