(Edited press release)
The Laurel Park fall stakes schedule was approved July 24 at the monthly Maryland Racing Commission meeting.
Last month, the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association announced they had agreed to reduce purses and slash the stakes schedule for the balance of the 2007 racing campaign as the industry faces a $3 million shortfall in the purse account by the end of the calendar year.
In addition, the Maryland Horse Breeders' Association decided to stop paying bonuses to Maryland-breds that win in open stakes. Because of the reductions, the 2007 fall stand will feature 32 stakes races for $3.285 million. A year ago, the meet included 43 added-money races for $4.725 million.
"This is reality," said Lou Raffetto, president and chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club. "We avoided cutting race dates, but that is something we will no doubt have to do come the first of the year unless the legislature holds a special session to deal with slots and a purse subsidy.
"On a positive note, the accord we reached with the MTHA is yet another sign of the harmony that exists within the industry and shows a true willingness to work together to accomplish what needs to be achieved to survive and stay competitive."
The 68-day fall meet, which begins Sept. 5, is headlined by the 22nd annual Maryland Million Oct. 13, a 12-race stakes program for Maryland sired horses, and the Nov. 24 Fall Festival of Racing, featuring the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (gr. I). The purses for Maryland Million day have increased with four races (Classic, Turf, Lassie, and Nursery) getting boosts. However, the J. De Francis Dash undercard will now feature only three other stakes races, four fewer than previously.
The specific changes are as follows:
--The cancellation of 11 stakes: Charles Hadry, Gala Lil, Martha Washington, Japan Racing Association, Kattegat's Pride, Anne Arundel, Laurel Turf Cup, April Run, Stefanita, Toddler, and Steward Mitchell.
--Reduction on the purses of 16 other stakes: Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, John Schapiro, Sonny Hine, Dave¹s Friend, Mr. Diz, Deputed Testamony, Gin Talking, Oliver's Twist, Find Handicap, All Brandy, Northern Dancer, Jennings Handicap, Geisha, Squan Song, Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, and Maryland Juvenile Championship.