Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course will conduct 146 days of racing in 2012, the same number that was scheduled the last two years after the Maryland Racing Commission approved an agreement by the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association at its monthly meeting the afternoon of Dec. 20 at Laurel Park.
“We are very pleased to be racing next year,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas in a release. “I would like to personally thank Governor O’Malley, his chief legislative officer Joe Bryce and the Maryland Racing Commission, especially John McDaniel, for mediating the process. This agreement provides a foundation for continuing efforts to create a long-term solution to Maryland racing.”
The Maryland Jockey Club will conduct a winter meeting at Laurel Park, a spring campaign at Pimlico Race Course, and a fall meeting at Laurel Park. There will be no live racing at the major Maryland tracks during the summer.
The Laurel Park winter stand will begin Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, with live racing taking place four days a week on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule (with holiday exceptions). The 48-day meet will end Saturday, March 24. First post is 12:35 p.m. (ET). The stakes schedule has not been finalized.
2012 Laurel Park Winter Meeting
Feb. 29-Mar. 1-2-3
Racing will then shift to Pimlico for the spring meeting, which will be highlighted by the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), which is set for Saturday, May 19, 2012. Preakness Day will be the final day of the meet for the 29-day stand, which will begin Friday, March 30.
For the first time, the Maryland Jockey Club will permit two also-eligible entrants to the $1 million Preakness Stakes. Those runners would be eligible to run if any of the entries of the original field are declared from the race after the post position draw on Wednesday of Preakness week until scratch time Friday morning, the morning before race. A maximum of 14 horses are allowed to compete in the 1 3/16-mile classic on the third Saturday in May.
“It is very similar to what Churchill is doing for the Derby,” said Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary Georganne Hale. “It enables us to still run a full field of 14 if there is a late scratch by 9 a.m. Friday morning. We have set the deadline because on that afternoon advanced wagering starts on the Preakness.”
After a 15-week break, which will include seven live days of racing at Timonium during the State Fair, live racing will return to the major tracks on Sept. 7 at Laurel Park for a 69-day fall meeting.