The two Maryland Jockey Club racetracks will offer 146 live racing dates in 2014.
The Maryland Racing Commission Nov. 12 approved the schedules for Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course after the MJC, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, and Maryland Horse Breeders Association reached an agreement on dates.
As part of a 10-year deal hammered out in 2011, the MJC said that beginning in 2014 it would request 100 live racing days, but horsemen would have the option to "purchase" additional days. Horsemen decided to fund winter racing at Laurel.
Maryland THA chairman Alan Foreman said Nov. 12 the money comes from the horsemen's share of purses derived from pari-mutuel wagering on live racing. The funds can't come from racing's share of video lottery terminal revenue at Maryland casinos.
Foreman said the cost per day is multiplied by the number of days horsemen purchase. He said he didn't have exact numbers but the 46 days will cost between $5 million and $7 million.
"At that time on the calendar–the winter dates–there is the least amount of competition for horses," Foreman said. "Outside of horses that go to Florida or Arkansas, we'll probably attract a large number of horses given where our purses are now.
"It seems like 146 (days) is a good number, but it could vary (in future years)."
Laurel as usual will open Jan. 1 for a 46-day meet that ends March 29. Pimlico will race 35 days from April 3-June 7, and Laurel will return for a 65-day fall meet Sept. 5-Dec. 31.
The Maryland State Fair at Timonium will hold its short summer meet from late August through Labor Day.
With the exception of holiday Mondays, Laurel will race Thursdays through Sundays through mid-February, and then add Wednesdays for the rest of the winter meet.