LAUREL, MD. 11-20-08---Hubert Vester’s True Exchange dueled for the lead and finished fourth in yesterday’s seventh race. Just 24-hours later, feeling no worse the wear, True Exchange posted a driving victory in today’s eighth race at Laurel Park.

“He is a bit of a hard-head and is one of those horses when he gets in front he puts his toes in the ground which he did again yesterday,” said trainer Robbie Bailes prior to the race. “Today we are going to sit off the pace and try to wait as long as possible to make one run.”

And that is exactly what happened. Jockey Malcolm Franklin rated off Mass Charles and Blowin Raspberries, angled off in mid-turn and took command near the sixteenth pole and held off Mass Charles by a neck. The 3-year-old gelding paid $17.40.

“The race yesterday took a little out of him and I think it played a big role in how he ran today,” Franklin said. “There was more speed in this race than yesterday so I knew the change in strategy could work. He was certainly more relaxed but once he got in front he stopped running hard.”

“Some horses do run better like this,” added Bailes, in the winners’ circle after the score. “He is a sound horse and has some talent but he is the toughest one I have ever trained.”

The son of Exchange Rate is now 2-of-12 with eight in the money finishes. He earned $17,100 for the victory.


At today’s monthly racing commission meeting, Maryland Jockey Club officials applied for 59 days of live racing for the Laurel Park winter meeting which begins Thursday, January 1, 2009 at the central Maryland track. Live racing will take place four days a week on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule (with holiday exceptions) during the 15-week stand that will end Saturday, April 11.

Headlining the schedule are a pair of Grade II $150,000 seven-furlong sprints on President’s Day weekend-the Barbara Fritchie Handicap for fillies and mares on February 14, and the General George Handicap for males two days later. The meet will feature 17 stakes races worth a combined purse exceeding $1 million.

“The passage of the slots referendum earlier this month certainly gives us renewed hope to compete with the other mid-Atlantic states moving forward but until that day comes, reality is that we will continue to struggle,” said Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer Tom Chuckas.

Post time will be 12:10 p.m.


Laurel Park officials decided this afternoon not to use the turf course for the remainder of the year. After carding grass races in 29 of the first 39 days of the fall meeting, heavy rains in the region have forced the racing office to take races off the turf five consecutive days, including today. Two turf races were also scheduled for both Friday and Saturday.

“With the freezing temps at night and rain we keep receiving, the growth has slowed down,” Maryland Jockey Club turf superintendent Robbie Mitten said. “The 10 day forecast calls for more of the same.”

Two hundred twenty-four turf races were conducted at the major Maryland tracks this year (144 at Laurel and 80 at Pimlico Race Course) with an average field size of 10.25 and an average win payout of more than $15.

The Laurel turf course will re-open in April highlighted by the $50,000 Dahlia Stakes on April 11.


Sheldon Russell, whose promising career has been hindered by injuries, had his apprentice year extended 136 days by the Maryland Racing Commission after the rider submitted medical records substantiating racing-related injuries. Russell, who has missed time with two separate vertebrae injuries as well as a broken wrist, will now ride with the weight allowance until May 3, 2009.

The 21-year-old sits atop the rider standings during the current fall meeting with 37 victories.