Edited press release
The Maryland Jockey Club said the installation of sod for the Laurel Park turf course began May 31 under the supervision of turf superintendent Robbie Mitten.
The installation process will take about 12 days, weather permitting, according to MJC chief operating officer Lou Raffetto. The grass course should be ready for the next Laurel meet that begins Sept. 8, he said.
Last fall, plans were abandoned for the turf course as concentration was shifted to reconstruction of the main track at Laurel. Last summer, Magna Entertainment Corp., parent company of the MJC, began a multimillion-dollar renovation that included the widening of both racing surfaces.
The new dirt track, which was raised and increased in width from 75 feet to 95 feet, was completed in early January and opened later that month. The grass course has been expanded from 75 feet to 142 feet. The added width will allow for about six different courses.
Since the end of the Laurel meet in mid-April, workers have been installing lateral drains every 10 feet around the turf course. They're being placed diagonally and will be connected to a new perimeter drain that flows into the infield. Raffetto said three-quarters of the turf course has been completed.
The current spring meet at Pimlico Race Course concludes June 12. After the eight-week Colonial Downs meet in Virginia, Pimlico will host a brief summer meet in August prior to the Maryland State Fair meet at Timonium, which ends Labor Day.
The Laurel fall meet will run through Dec. 31. Highlights will be the 20th running of the Maryland Million Oct. 8, and the Nov. 19 Fall Festival of Racing headlined by the Frank J. De Francis Dash (gr. I).