Laurel Park

Laurel Park

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

Laurel Park Meet Begins With Focus on Turf

The Maryland track will offer 65 days of racing through Dec. 31.

Laurel Park opens its customary end-of-season meet Sept. 5 with an emphasis on turf racing and stakes clustered on multiple big-event days.

The Maryland Jockey Club will offer 65 days of racing at Laurel through Dec. 31 with racing primarily four days a week on a Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule. The usual first post time is 1:10 p.m. EDT.

The Sept. 6 program will feature four stakes: the $125,000 All Brandy for Maryland-bred runners, the $100,000 Japan Racing Association Stakes, the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go, and the $100,000 Dave's Friend Stakes. There are five turf races scheduled for Sept. 6 and five set for opening day.

The 29th edition of the Jim McKay Maryland Million for offspring of Maryland-based stallions is scheduled for Oct. 18 at Laurel. The Nov. 15 Fall Festival of Racing will feature six stakes races topped by the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.

The Sept. 27 card will offer five $100,000 turf stakes, including the Laurel Futurity and Selima Stakes for 2-year-olds and 2-year-old fillies, respectively.

Because there was no racing this year at Colonial Downs in neighboring Virginia, the MJC is hosting five $60,000 turf stakes for Virginia-bred horses Sept. 13 at Laurel. The purse money comes from the Virginia Thoroughbred Association.

The first condition book indicates overnight purses are about where they were when Laurel ended its 2014 winter meet. Maiden special weight events will go for $40,000 and allowance races from $42,000-$50,000. The minimum purse of $14,000 is reserved for $5,000 claimers that haven't won two races lifetime.

The horse racing and breeding industry in Maryland gets a 7% share of video lottery terminal revenue from casinos in the state. According to Maryland Lottery statistics, the Horse Racing Purse Dedication Account earned more than $23.3 million the first seven months of 2014; more than $17 million of that amount was generated by VLTs at Maryland Live!, a casino located not far from Laurel.