Laurel Surface Project Delayed Because Of Rain

The Maryland Jockey Club has altered course with its planned track surface project at Laurel Park because of consistent heavy rain in the area.

The MJC said Laurel will now be open for training May 20-22 rather than closed so maintenance crews can about 25,000 tons of cushion material. The project will be rescheduled as soon as possible during the current Pimlico Race Course meet.

Stanley Concrete, a local company that participated in a major renovation of the Laurel surface during the winter, will lay the material. The track maintenance crew headed by Chris Bosley will work in the material and grade it to make sure its level.

Laurel reopens for live racing June 1.


The main track at Laurel Park will be closed for training May 20-22 to allow for the addition of more cushion material.

The project had been planned, but heavy rainfall over the past week or so delayed release of a date for it to commence. Most of the heavy rain is forecast to be out of Maryland by Sunday.

“We’ll be adding and mixing in new material,” said Maryland Jockey Club President Sal Sinatra said. “The plan is to add about 25,000 tons, more of it from the crown to the outside of the track, but we need to mix it with the old material for consistency.”

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In the wake of the United States Supreme Court decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, multiple states have fast-tracked the regulatory and legislative process to facilitate legal sports betting.

Several states in the Mid-Atlantic region are poised to begin taking bets, including New Jersey, where Monmouth Park officials are hopeful to be up and running in a few weeks. Delaware, one of four states previously authorized to offer limited parlay sports betting on professional football, could be less than a few months away from a major expansion.

West Virginia and Pennsylvania already have laws on the books authorizing sports betting. Maryland does not, and that has led to speculation over when the state may act.

TheBaltimore Business Journalon May 14, the day the Supreme Court decision was made public, reported that legislative leaders are receptive to holding a special session this year to re-address legislation that passed the House of Delegates but died in the Senate earlier in 2018. The publication also reported that Gov. Larry Hogan, who is running for re-election this year, has no plans to call a special session.

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The Maryland equine industry contributes more than $1.3 billion to the state’s economy, with more than half generated by horse racing and related businesses, according to the latest economic impact study commissioned by the American Horse Council.

A May 14 release notes that total employment in the state’s horse industry is more than 21,000 jobs. Racing, both Thoroughbred and Standardbred, produces $365 million in economic value and provides more than 5,200 jobs for a total economic impact of $572 million, according to the study.

The report outlines three primary sectors of the horse industry: recreation, competition, and racing. Other benefits that spin off from the horse industry are land preservation, volunteerism, equine therapy and rehoming operations, and educational opportunities at academic institutions.

Horse racing in Maryland has rebounded in recent years as a result of a 10-year agreement among stakeholders and a dedicated percentage of video lottery terminal revenue from the state’s casinos. Breeding and racing have both experienced growth.

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Groom Elite Program Beginning In June at Laurel Park

As part of its overall backstretch outreach program, the MTHA for the first time will offer courses that are part of the highly regarded Groom Elite Program.

The most basic course, Basic Grooming 99, is scheduled for June 25-29 at Laurel Park. It will be followed at a later date by the program’s primary course, Groom Elite 101.

The MTHA Board of Directors earlier this year signed off the plan to bring the Groom Elite Program to Maryland. Dr. Reid McLellan visited Laurel to make a presentation on how the educational program works, and at that time noted the courses are based on differing levels of knowledge and experience. During his almost 15 years directing the Animal Industries program at Louisiana Tech University, McLellan launched an equine specialty program by which students were licensed as trainers by the state racing commission and trained racehorses on a half-mile track at the school. He has held other positions in the racing industry along with voluntarily leading Groom Elite in the early 2000s.

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The first four stakes in the 2018 MATCH Series (Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships) have attracted a combined 130 nominations. The Series begins May 18-19 at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland as part of Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes weekend.

The $100,000 Skipat Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs, and the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs run on May 18, Black-Eyed Susan Day. The $100,000 The Very One, a $100,000 event for fillies and mares at five furlongs on the turf, and the grade III, $150,000 Maryland Sprint Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs, run May 19 on the Preakness undercard.

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