The Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) have agreed to slash the stakes schedule, including the Grade I Frank J. De Francis Dash, for the 2008 fall racing campaign at Laurel Park as the industry faces a shortfall in the purse account by the end of the calendar year. The only stakes races on the calendar will be state-bred or state sired stakes, headlined by the 23rd running of the Maryland Million on Saturday, October 4.
“This is terribly disappointing but these are serious times,” said Tom Chuckas, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Maryland Jockey Club. “We remain hopeful that the playing field between Maryland and our neighbors to the west, north and east will be leveled and that we will be able to resume running this prominent race in the future.”
Other races put on hiatus include the Laurel Futurity and Selima Stakes, marquee races for two-year-olds, and the Grade III Safely Kept Stakes.
The 17-week fall meeting will be conducted at Laurel from September 4 through December 27 on a four-day a week schedule (Wednesday through Saturday, with Columbus holiday exception). An official announcement of the stakes schedule for the 65-day stand will be made after the August 19 Maryland Racing Commission meeting.
PIMLICO RACE COURSE CLOSED FOR TRAINING EFFECTIVE AUGUST 31
BALTIMORE, 08-06-08---Officials at the Maryland Jockey Club announced today that Pimlico Race Course will be closed for training and stabling, effective August 31. Racing secretary Georganne Hale will relocate trainers to barns at Laurel Park and the Bowie Training Center. Horses that are assigned stalls at Laurel or Bowie will be shipped to those facilities at the expense of the Maryland Jockey Club.
“We understand this is an inconvenience to the horsemen and we will work with them to ensure a smooth and fluid transition,” said Tom Chuckas, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Maryland Jockey Club. “This was a business decision based on the revenue stream.”
Pimlico will remain open for simulcasting. Live racing will return to Old Hilltop next April. The spring stand is highlighted by the 134th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (Grade I), the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, on Saturday, May 16, 2009.
LAUREL PARK SUMMER MEETING KICKS OFF FRIDAY
After an eight-week break, live racing returns to Maryland on Friday, August 8 at Laurel Park with a nine-race card featuring three turf races. The 10-day summer meeting, which wraps up Thursday, August 21 will include twilight racing (3:30 p.m. post time) on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Laurel Park will offer free admission for the weekday cards. Promotions for fans attending the twilight cards will be Twilight 2’s, which include 2 for 1 draft beer, $2 frozen drinks (daiquiris and margaritas), $2 slice of pizza and 2 for $22 dining specials.
The meet will include a pair of $50,000 state-bred stakes races for three-year-olds: Twixt Stakes (Saturday, August 9) and Humphrey S. Finney (Saturday, August 16). First post for the weekend dates is 1:10 p.m.
At the conclusion of the stand, live racing shifts to Timonium for the seven-day state fair meet.