Live racing returns to Laurel Park Sept. 5 on the heels of the Maryland State Fair meet, which continues through Sept. 3 at Timonium.
The Sept. 1 Alma North Stakes, the first of two stakes at Timonium, has attracted Somethinaboutbetty, who ships in from Belmont Park for trainer Todd Pletcher. The Alma North, for Maryland-bred fillies and mares at 6 1/2 furlongs around two turns, also attracted local standouts La Chica Rica and Laila’s Punch.
Post time at Timonium is 1 p.m. EDT through closing day, which will feature the Taking Risk Stakes.
Laurel’s 68-day session will offer racing Wednesdays through Saturdays and Columbus Day, a Monday, through Dec. 29. First post is 1:10. There will be 32 stakes worth about $3.3 million.
The Maryland Million for state-breds is set for Oct. 13, and the Fall Festival of Racing, featuring the grade I Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, is scheduled for Nov. 24.
Purses for Maryland Million day have increased for four races: the Classic, Turf, Lassie, and Nursery. However, the De Francis Dash undercard will include only three other stakes, four fewer than usual.
The Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association agreed to reduce stakes because of a $3-million shortfall in the purse account.
“We expect to have quality racing with full fields and plenty of turf racing,” said Lou Raffetto, MJC president and chief operating officer. “The recently completed summer mini-meet gets lost in the sauce, but after Labor Day, the horsemen come with horses ready to run.”
Mario Pino, Maryland’s all-time leading jockey by wins, said he believes he could hit the 6,000 career win mark during the Laurel meet. The Maryland resident plans to continue riding primarily at Delaware Park through Nov. 4, but then will ride at Laurel. He had 5,955 wins through Aug. 30.
“I plan on riding some before the Delaware meet wraps up, including Maryland Million day,” Pino said. “It looks like 6,000 will likely happen at Laurel.”