Live racing returns to Laurel Park Sept. 12 and the 57-day fall meeting is highlighted by the 24th running of the Maryland Million.
The 14-week stand will feature live racing on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons (with Columbus holiday exception) through Dec. 19.
The Maryland Million, a 12-race stakes program for Maryland sired horses, falls on Sept. 26. The meet also features the return of Laurel’s marquee race, the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (gr. I), which was not carded in 2008 due to a purse account shortfall. The race is Oct. 24 this year.
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.
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 Sept. 18 with the post position draw held five days later.
The De Francis Dash is one of three grade I races contested in Maryland, along with the Preakness Stakes and 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.