Laurel Park will be host to 68 race days and 27 stakes races this fall after the Maryland Jockey Club reached agreement with the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and Maryland Horse Breeders Association today. The schedule was approved by the Maryland Racing Commission this afternoon.
The meet begins Sept. 9 and ends Dec. 17. The highlight of the met is the 26th running of the Jim McKay Maryland Million on Oct. 1 and the return of the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash on Oct. 22. It had been on a one-year hiatus.
The fall meet will also feature the return of two historic 2-year-old stake races, the Laurel Futurity and Selima Stakes as well as the Laurel Dash, Lady Baltimore Stakes, Japan Racing Association Stakes, Smart Halo Stakes and Dave's Friend Stakes.
"It is important to have open stakes races to bolster our daily average purse distribution, which will be $185,000," Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said in a news release. "Last year, all 19 stakes races were for Maryland-bred or Maryland-sired runners. To build the business from a handle standpoint, our races have to be more attractive to the simulcast players. Adding the De Francis Dash to the schedule gives us instant credibility, while five of the other seven are scheduled for the turf and that almost guarantees large fields."
Racing will take place four days a week in September (Wednesday through Saturday) and five days a week in October, November and December (Tuesday through Saturday).