Canceled twice previously, Laurel Park's reopening Wednesday drew a crowd of 5,036 back to the central Maryland track after a 10-month hiatus. A winter storm that hit the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas had caused the Maryland Jockey Club to cancel live racing at Laurel Park Saturday and Sunday. "It's been a long time waiting, but it looks great," said Steve Hamilton, who guided Conduct ($20.80) to an upset victory in the first race. "The track is real good. The horses are all handling things real well. They are bouncing right along, you can hardly hear them hit the ground."The multi-million dollar renovation included the widening of both racing surfaces. The new main course, which has been raised and increased in width from 75 to 95 feet, opened for training on Jan. 9. Trainer Scott Lake and jockey Eric Camacho teamed up for a pair of victories Wednesday, scoring with Sun Sapphire ($3.40-second) and Formal Event ($7.80-fourth). "I like it," said Camacho. "The horses just feel really good underneath you. Both of my winners came from off the pace. I liked the feeling in the three-path. It felt really nice out there."The average payout for the winners of the eight-race card was $18.33, including a 27-1 upset by Golden Goddess in the third. The Pick 4 paid a healthy $5,177.60.The opening day promotions scheduled last Saturday – free admission, a complimentary live racing program and keychain to the first 5,000 people in attendance – are to take place on Jan. 29. In addition, a donation of $1 will be made by the MJC to the American Red Cross International Response Fund on behalf of each person who attends Saturday to support relief efforts for the catastrophic earthquakes and tsunami relief that struck South Asia. The 10-race card will feature a pair of stakes races for fillies and mares, the $75,000 Nellie Morse and the $50,000 What A Summer Stakes.
Saturday is also the return of the Magna 5, a $2 pick five wager linking races from four racetracks in the span of a little over an hour with a guaranteed $500,000 pool. The Magna 5 begins with the Nellie Morse from Laurel at 4:25 p.m EST.