MD Racing Commission approves requests for 2024 dates
The Maryland Racing Commission at its Oct. 31 meeting approved a request from the Maryland Jockey Club for 2024 racing dates at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.
A full calendar was submitted for the winter and spring meets at Laurel and the Preakness meet at Pimlico. There is no set calendar for the summer and fall meets at Laurel.
The submission to the MRC notes that racing dates are “contingent upon the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association executing an extension of the Maryland Racing Term Sheet agreed upon by both parties.” The current extension of a 10-year agreement among the MJC, MTHA and Maryland Horse Breeders Association expires Dec. 31, 2023.
Laurel was approved for 38 racing programs from Jan. 5-March 30, with racing on a Friday-through-Sunday schedule. The 18-day fall meet runs from April 5-May 5 with racing Friday through Sunday for two weeks and then Thursday through Sunday for the emaining three weeks. The 11-day Preakness meet is scheduled for May 9-May 27 with two four-day weeks before and after a three-day Preakness week.
The Maryland State Fair at Timonium, which usually holds a seven-day meet, applied for its full complement of 10 days that would be held in conjunction with its fair. The dates are Aug. 23-25, Aug. 30-Sept. 2, and Sept. 6-8.
The MRC approved the request but noted the final three days of the fair meet would overlap with the opening of the Laurel fall meet. The MJC manages the wagering operation at Timonium.
MRC Executive Director Mike Hopkins noted that “there are still negotiations to take place” regarding the proposal.
Fair Hill in its latest submission requested five racing dates for 2024: May 21, May 25 (the annual Fair Hill Races), May 27, Aug. 31 and Sept. 2. It also requested the option to utilize another three dates permitted by statute. The submission notes its schedule is pending approval by the state Department of Natural Resources.
Laurel Park in 2023 was able to host 273 turf races, the most since 2019 and the highest number among all racetracks in the Mid-Atlantic region.