Laurel dirt surface to be stripped, base examine

The entire Laurel Park dirt surface will be stripped of all material and the base inspected during a project that began April 16 and could take two to three weeks to complete, officials said during a racing community Zoom meeting hosted by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

The Maryland Jockey Club and its parent company, The Stronach Group (1/ST RACING), on April 15 announced that racing at Laurel would be suspended and the spring meet would move to Pimlico Race Course beginning Thursday, April 22. The MJC said the Laurel dirt track had not responded sufficiently to cushion repairs made during the winter meet.

The surface will be stripped from the rail out and horses will be permitted to gallop or jog on the outside of the track. Cones will be in place to separate the maintenance work area from the rest of the surface. On Saturday, April 17, training hours will be 5-8:30 a.m. with no break.

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Live racing moves to Pimlico as Laurel surface is evaluated

Live racing at Laurel Park for Saturday, April 17, through Monday, April 19 has been canceled, and the spring meet will move to Pimlico Race Course effective Thursday, April 22. There are eight scheduled racing days remaining during the spring meet.

The Maryland Jockey Club on April 15 announced that the move is necessary because of an “ongoing evaluation of the main track surface conditions. As part of regular track maintenance, the (MJC) identified on April 14 that the main track had not responded sufficiently to wintertime cushion repairs.”

The MJC said it submitted an application to the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association to shift racing to Pimlico on an emergency basis. The Laurel spring meet ends Sunday, May 2, and the 15-day Pimlico meet begins Thursday, May 6. The MJC release said racing will be held at Pimlico “until further notice.”

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Legislative session ends on positive note for Maryland horsemen

The Maryland Senate and House of Delegates April 12 both passed broad legislation authorizing implementation of sports betting as approved last November in a statewide constitutional referendum. Most horse racing facilities and off-track betting outlets are eligible for licenses.

The General Assembly also passed a video lottery terminal bill that will generate substantially more revenue for the Purse Dedication Account.

The Senate had amended the House bill (HB 940), which resulted in a compromise hammered out just days before the General Assembly ended its 2021 session April 12. The final vote in the Senate was 47-0, while the House voted 122-16. The measure, which has emergency status to facilitate the awarding of licenses, now goes to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature.

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Laurel to add racing days to make up for cancellations

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club have agreed to add racing days over the next several months to make up for multiple cancellations in the winter and early spring because of weather conditions and equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) restrictions.

The MJC earlier announced that the Spring Stakes Spectacular program originally scheduled for April 17 at Laurel Park has been moved to the following Saturday, April 24. Extra races listed for Thursday, April 15, will move to Saturday, April 17, and racing will not held April 15. The program slated for Friday, April 16, has been moved to Monday, April 19. So racing will be held April 17-19 instead of April 15-18.

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MD casinos have banner month; $6.5M for Purse Dedication Account

Maryland’s six casinos posted a single-month revenue record of $169.1 million in March, up 3.6% from the previous record of $163.2 million in March 2019, according to statistics released April 5 by Maryland Lottery and Gaming.

Total revenue from video lottery terminals for March 2021 was $112.7 million. Of that amount, 6% at five casinos and 2.5% at the sixth goes to the Purse Dedication Account. The PDA earned $6.5 million, up 32.6% from $4.9 million in February 2021 and up 6.5% from $6.1 million in March 2019.

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Maryland and Virginia to conduct 2021 MATCH Series

The highly popular Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) Series, which was forced to go on hiatus in 2020 because of regional COVID-19 restrictions, will return this year under a two-state schedule put together by horsemen and racetracks in Maryland and Virginia to bridge the gap until the full Series is restored in 2022, it was announced today.

The Series, the only one of its kind in racing, will run from May 14 at Pimlico Race Course through Dec. 26 at Laurel Park, and will feature 24 stakes—20 of them in Maryland and four at Colonial Downs in Virginia—valued at $2,750,000 million. There will be four divisions, all of them on dirt, and $282,000 in bonus money. 

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