The Maryland Racing Commission today approved the Maryland Jockey Club's request to extend the Pimlico summer-fall race meeting as reconstruction of the Laurel Park racing surfaces has fallen behind schedule because of inclement weather this summer.
The current stand was scheduled to end on Oct. 11 but now will tentatively conclude on Nov. 2. Two $50,000 stakes races were added at Old Hilltop: Sonny Hine Stakes (Oct. 16) and Japan Racing Association (Oct. 23), as well as a pair of $75,000 two-year old state-bred stakes (Heavenly Cause and Rollicking) on Oct. 30.
The Laurel fall meet is expected to open on Nov. 4, running mainly on a Wednesday through Sunday schedule. The headline event for the nine-week meet is the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (Grade I) on Nov. 20. The day features six stakes races, including a pair of Grade III's, Laurel Futurity and Anne Arundel, plus two other six-figure added money races, Selima and Charles H. Hadry Stakes.
The backstretch and racing surfaces at Laurel Park have been closed since mid-June as Magna Entertainment Corp. began a $16 million renovation, which includes the widening of both racing surfaces. The turf course will be expanded from 75 to 142 feet, while the dirt course will be increased from 75 to 95 feet.
Originally published September 14, 2004, 4:23 PM EDT