Laurel Park to host 15 stakes races during winter meeting

Pair of Grade 2 $150,000 seven-furlong sprints scheduled for Presidents Day weekend

December 31, 2010|By Sports Digest

Laurel Park

Track to host 15 stakes races during winter meeting

The 2011 Laurel Park winter meeting will feature 15 stakes races, since the Maryland Jockey Club, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Maryland Horse Breeders Association have agreed to a schedule. Headlining the program are a pair of Grade 2 $150,000 seven-furlong sprints on Presidents Day weekend: the Barbara Fritchie Handicap for fillies and mares Feb. 19 and the General George Handicap for males two days later. "We couldn't focus on the stakes schedule until we had racing dates," said the Maryland Jockey Club's racing secretary, Georganne Hale. "Having a Saturday stakes program is important because it means better horses and people like to come out to watch them run." The 49-day winter stand begins Saturday with a nine-race card. Sheldon Russell returns after missing the final two months of the 2010 season with eight broken ribs, which he suffered in a spill at Laurel on Oct. 30. Russell trailed Forest Boyce in the rider standings by only three wins before the injury. The 23-year-old has three mounts on opening day, including stakes winner Northpoint Costas in the sixth race. "I am happy because the goal was to be back Jan. 1," said Russell, who has suffered a serious injury in each of his four years as a jockey. "I have been working horses in the morning the last two weeks and really started feeling really good just before Christmas." Added Russell's agent, Marty Leonard: "He is relentless and resilient. We are trying to come back on horses with good chances to get business rolling again." Live racing will take place at Laurel Park Wednesdays through Saturdays (with holiday exceptions) through March 26. Post time for the meet will be 12:35 p.m.

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