Track crew to examine area of Laurel dirt course; no training Sept. 23-24

Laurel Park will be closed for training Wednesday, Sept. 23 and Thursday, Sept. 24 for maintenance work on a small portion of the dirt surface, the Maryland Jockey Club said.

The goal was to reopen for training Sept. 24, but MJC said the project is not yet complete and would take addtional time to complete. MJC said would provide further updates as they come available.

The track maintenance crew was working on an area near the five-eighths pole on the main track, MJC President Sal Sinatra said. The work is necessary for health and safety reasons and to prevent a larger issue from developing later.

Track Superintendent Chris Bosley said he was on his way back from Pimlico Race Course, which begins its meet Sept. 24, to oversee the Laurel project. He said his crew noticed that the area in question, which had been repaired before, felt differently the morning of Sept. 22.

“It’s an area about five to six feet off the rail,” Bosley said. “It’s possible the patch didn’t take well with all the rain we’ve had, so we’ll go ahead and look at it to make sure it’s right. I always err on the side of caution.”

Claiming Crown Preview races will carry 30% owner bonus

The nine starter allowance events that make up the $400,000 Claiming Crown Preview Oct. 2 at Pimlico Race Course will each carry the 30% owner bonus for Maryland-breds typically awarded for non-stakes at Maryland racetracks.

The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Board of Directors on Sept.15 discussed the Claiming Crown Preview races, which are listed in the Pimlico condition book as starter allowances. The 30% owner bonus designation is not listed in the condition book. The MTHA Board then voted unanimously to pay the bonuses based on purse earnings by Maryland-bred horses that finish first, second, or third.

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Claiming Crown Preview, Maryland Million coming in October

Pimlico Race Course on Friday, Oct. 2, will host nine lucrative starter allowance events that will offer the winners guaranteed berths in the Claiming Crown, which will be held Dec. 5 at Gulfstream Park.

“Claiming Crown Preview” purses will total $400,000 and will range from $35,000 to $60,000. The Claiming Crown races are run under starter allowance conditions for horses that have started for a specific claiming price or less in 2019-20. The claiming prices are $8,000, $12,500, $16,000, $25,000 and $35,000.

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MD casino revenue remains strong after COVID-19 shutdown

In their second full month of operation at 50% capacity after having been shuttered because of COVID-19 restrictions, Maryland’s six casinos in August generated $149.54 million in gaming revenue, down only 3.1% from August 2019. Maryland Lottery and Gaming said it was the eighth-highest month for revenue since the casinos began operating.

Maryland’s racing industry receives revenue from gaming to support purses and racetrack improvements: 6% of video lottery terminal revenue at five casinos and 2.5% at the sixth goes toward purses, and 1% of VLT revenue at five casinos goes toward the Racetrack Facility Renewal Account.

In August, $5.48 million was paid to the Purse Dedication Account, with 80% ($4.38 million) for Thoroughbred racing. In July, Thoroughbred purses earned $4.26 million from VLTs.

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Stakes purses total almost $7M in final three months

Almost $7 million in stakes purses will be up for grabs in Maryland from Oct. 1 through Dec. 26 under the fourth-quarter schedule released by the Maryland Jockey Club.

The schedule includes $2.7 million in purses for Oct. 3, Preakness Stakes Day, when there will be 12 stakes including the $1 million, Grade I Preakness and $250,000, Grade II Black-eyed Susan Stakes. (The $100,000 purse for the President of the UAE Cup Arabian stakes does not come from the Maryland Purse Account.) The six-day Pimlico meet will be held Sept. 24-26 and Oct. 1-3.

Three stakes worth a total of $400,000 are scheduled for Oct. 1, followed by the $400,000 “Claiming Crown Preview” and $250,000, Grade 3 Pimlico Special.

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Memorial service announced for trainer Jack Kousin

A viewing for trainer Jack Kousin, who passed away Aug. 25, will be held Sept. 4 from 3-6 p.m. at Adams-Green Funeral Home, 721 Elden Street, in Herndon, Va.

A memorial service, followed by a Celebration of Life (and the Kentucky Derby), will be held Sept. 5 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Belmont Country Club, 19661 Belmont Manor Lane, in Ashburn, Va. The phone number is 703-723-5330.

The service will be outside—weather permitting—and the reception will have indoor/outdoor options according to COVID-19 restrictions in the state. Organizers of the memorial said, though not mandatory, they would like a general sense of how many people may attend so the club can plan properly.

Kousin, who won 207 races as a trainer, was away from the races for 22 years until 2018. On March 1, 2020, he saddled Fontaine to victory at Laurel Park for his first win since 1996 and had a few horses in training at the time of his death.

Among his top horses were Contrary Rose, who earned more than $335,000 and won multiple stakes at Maryland racetracks; Peace for Peace, a winner of more than $255,000; and S. S. Hot Sauce, who competed in the 1984 Preakness Stakes after a pair of stakes wins at Bowie Race Course.

Purse Release