Laurel begins meet with heightened hopes

Nine races, full fields expected to lure bettors

Horse Racing

October 17, 2001|By Tom Keyser | By Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Thoroughbred racing returns to Laurel Park today with nine races, each with at least 10 horses. Racing will continue at Laurel into the new year.

Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club, said that the full fields are the result of horsemen eager to support the local program and the Wednesday-through-Saturday schedule that will continue until mid-November. Sunday racing returns Nov. 11.

Racing four days a week instead of five has permitted Georganne Hale, the racing secretary, to lure fuller fields, Raffetto said. That, in turn, attracts more bettors.

Raffetto said the Pimlico meet that ended Saturday did extremely well with four days of racing. He said that during September and October betting in-state was "dead even" and betting out-of-state was up about 28 percent compared with last July and August when Maryland raced five days a week.(Comparing September and October 2001 with September and October 2000 is not possible because Maryland shut down last fall for the Colonial Downs' meet. Betting in the fall on Maryland races is traditionally higher than betting in the summer.)

Patrons at Laurel will notice barricades around the grandstand windows overlooking the track. Panels have cracked in place (none has shattered to the pavement), prompting the buffer areas.

NOTES: Jorge Chavez will replace the injured Rick Wilson on Xtra Heat in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, the filly's trainer, John Salzman, said yesterday. Wilson was released Sunday from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center after breaking three ribs and his right femur (thigh bone) in a spill five days ago at Pimlico. ... Broken Vow will not run in the Breeders' Cup Classic, his Maryland-based trainer H. Graham Motion said. Instead, the son of Unbridled will contest the Fayette Stakes on Oct. 27 at Keeneland.

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