Re-Opening of Laurel Delayed Again

Racing won't return to Laurel Park until after the new year as workers rebuilding the racing surfaces have encountered weather delays and continue to address foundation problems.

Jim Gagliano, executive vice president of racing operations for the Maryland Jockey Club, said Dec. 7 that the dirt track could open for training Dec. 20, and then, after at least two weeks of horses training on it, Laurel could reopen for racing in January. However, he said, dates won't be finalized until a final inspection of the racing surface next week.

The most recent tentative date for reopening had been Dec. 26. The project was originally to have been completed in September; both the dirt and turf courses were to have been finished. Now, the turf course won't be sodded until the spring.

Recent rains have hampered progress, and workers continue to shore up problem areas in the track's base, Gagliano said. Laurel's track sits atop a flood plain, and soggy ground has complicated the installation of a secure foundation.

Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the MJC, said racing would continue at Pimlico until Laurel reopens. Pimlico will race through Dec. 20, cease five days for Christmas, and then resume racing Dec. 26.

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