Fireworks at Rosecroft Raceway, the Coasters at Ocean Downs, a jockeys' sack race and stakes worth nearly half a million dollars at Laurel Park -- those and more highlight racing this holiday weekend at three Maryland horse tracks.
Ocean Downs opens its 40-night summer harness meet tonight under new ownership. Now owned by Bally's Maryland Inc., the track near Ocean City will race tonight through Sunday, and then Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Sept. 7. Post time is 7: 15 p.m.
Racing purses have increased 75 percent -- from $10,000 a day last year to $17,500 this year -- mainly because of a $5,500-a-day infusion from the state lottery. The new owners also contributed $2,000 a day.
Track president Dennis Dowd said Bally's is spending more than $500,000 to improve the facility. Entertainment also is planned. The oldies group the Coasters will perform at 7 and 9: 30 p.m. Saturday.
At Laurel Park, thoroughbreds will compete tomorrow in the $100,000 Fort McHenry Handicap (featuring Warning Glance, Winsox and Glenbarra), Saturday in the $200,000 Baltimore Breeders' Cup (featuring Mary's Buckaroo, Pyramid Peak and Western Echo) and Sunday in the $100,000 Straight Deal Breeders' Cup (featuring Dancin Rene and Conradley).
The Baltimore Breeders' Cup is a Grade III race and part of the MATCH series. Pat Day is slated to ride Pyramid Peak.
From noon to 5 p.m. tomorrow, Laurel Park will offer a Fourth of July picnic on the grandstand apron. And from 12: 30 to 4: 30 p.m., magicians, clowns and a face painter will be provided for children.
Saturday is Jockeys Across America Day for the benefit of the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund, which assists injured and disabled jockeys and exercise riders. Between Laurel's eighth and ninth races, jockeys will participate in a potato-sack race.
Earlier Saturday, from noon to 1 p.m., Laurel jockeys will sign autographs and pose for pictures for a nominal fee in the first-floor clubhouse. Proceeds go to the jockey fund.
Saturday is also a big day at Rosecroft, the harness track in Prince George's County, where Family Funfest (games, pony rides, etc.) begins at 5 p.m.
Racing starts at 7: 20 p.m. and features the finals of four divisions of the Maryland Sire Stakes.
About 11 p.m., after the last of 12 races, Rosecroft will launch a fireworks display.
Pub Date: 7/03/97