The following appeared in The Racing Biz.
Looking to continue the momentum that has seen an increase in average daily handle for eight consecutive meets dating back to 2015, Laurel Park kicks off its 60-day fall stand with a nine-race program Friday, Sept. 8.
A total of 92 horses were entered, an average of 10.2 starters per race, with a first-race post time of 1:10 p.m. Five races are scheduled for Laurel’s world-class turf course, with the remainder over its newly refurbished main track.
Friday’s featured event comes in Race 6, a $42,000 entry-level optional claiming allowance for 2-year-old fillies set for six furlongs over the main track. Juvenile fillies will also be in the spotlight in Race 7, a $40,000 maiden special weight going 5 ½ furlongs on the Exceller Turf Course.
Summer meet-leading jockey Victor Carrasco is named in five of nine races Friday, while trainer Claudio Gonzalez has Radial Flyer entered in Race 3, a $22,000 claiming event set for 1 1/16 miles over the Exceller grass layout. Gonzalez led the standings at Laurel’s summer stand as well as the recently concluded Maryland State Fair meet at Timonium.
Fall meet racing will be conducted Friday-Sunday through September and Thursday-Sunday starting Oct. 5. There will be no racing Thursday, Oct. 12 or Sunday and Monday, Dec. 24-25 with special programs Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 9, and Tuesday, Dec. 26. The meet closes Sunday, Dec. 31.
The fall meet includes nine more racing days than 2016 and a schedule of 44 stakes worth $4.42 million in purses including the 32nd annual Jim McKay Maryland Million program on Saturday, Oct. 21.
Opening the stakes schedule are the $75,000 Challedon for 3-year-olds and $75,000 Shine Again for fillies and mares 3 and older, both at six furlongs on the main track, Saturday, Sept. 9.
Maryland Million Day is one of six Super Saturday cards on tap this fall, which start with the Fall Festival of Racing program Sept. 16 featuring seven stakes worth $900,000 topped by the $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) for sprinters 3 and up at six furlongs.
Other highlights from the fall meet are Commonwealth Day, Sept. 30, with eight stakes worth $850,000 including the Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G2), Commonwealth Derby (G3) and Commonwealth Oaks (G3); and the James F. Lewis III and Smart Halo for 2-year-olds and City of Laurel and Safely Kept for 3-year-olds as part of seven stakes worth $575,000 along with a special tribute and bobblehead giveaway honoring late legend Ben’s Cat Nov. 11.
Laurel will host a BBQ buffet Thursday, Sept. 7 on the grandstand apron starting at 7:30 p.m. for the NFL’s season-opening game between the Kansas City Chiefs and defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. The cost is $20 per person and includes raffles, games, drink specials and a DJ. The game will be shown on Laurel’s state-of-the-art 56-by-36-foot infield video board.
New this fall, Laurel’s second-floor clubhouse sports bar will be the home of 105.7 The Fan’s Baltimore Gameday Uncensored pre-game show for Baltimore Ravens’ Sunday away games. Shows will begin three hours before kickoff. For 1 p.m. games, Laurel’s clubhouse doors will open at 10 a.m.
The 6th annual Brew & Bourbon Classic will be held at Laurel from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18. For more information, visit the Brew & Bourbon website.
For the complete fall stakes schedule, visit the Laurel Park website.