Renovation Of Laurel Park Main Track To Begin

For the first time since the mid-2000s, the main track at Laurel Park will be peeled back so the base can be examined in a project set to begin Aug. 21.

The work will be done during a break in the action at Laurel while the Maryland State Fair at Timonium holds its seven-day race meet from Aug. 25-Sept. 4. Laurel will begin its final meet of the year Sept. 8, but Maryland Jockey Club President Sal Sinatra said the goal is to get the track renovation completed as soon as possible.

“We’d like to get the track back to the horsemen as soon as possible for training purposes,” Sinatra said. “The weather, as it looks now, is supposed to be pretty good next week.”

 Rick Allen, Vice President of Facilities and Backside Operations for the MJC, will oversee the project. Assuming good weather, it would take two days to remove all the material on the surface and two days to replace it—but much will be done in between.

“Since it has been built it hasn’t been looked at,” Sinatra said. “We don’t know if the dirt is deeper in some spots. We’ll peel it back, make sure it’s level, and see if there are any inconsistencies in the base. The crew also will clear out all the drains and install new boards all the way around the track.”

Sinatra said he hopes the work takes five to seven days to complete. He has been involved in similar surface overhauls at Parx Racing, where he worked for 16 years before coming to Maryland.

“Once they put the dirt back on the base they’ll have to harrow and grade it because it won’t be completely settled,” Sinatra said. “We have to impress upon the horsemen that we need to make sure the surface is ready (before they beginning training again).”

Training will continue as usual at Pimlico Race Course during the Laurel shutdown.

“If there is anything we find, I think it would be minimal,” Sinatra said of the Laurel surface. “The biggest thing is probably drainage. This more of an inspection, more of a precautionary action.”

While work on the dirt surface is going on, the turf course—widened at the same time the main track was redone—will be aerated and over-seeded to prepare it for late summer and fall, when it traditionally is used extensively.

Updates will be provided as relevant online at mdhorsemen.com.

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