Timonium To Offer Stakes Races, Enhanced Purses

The following appeared on The Racing Biz website and was written by Frank Vespe.

The Big T will offer higher purses — and for the first time in years, stakes-quality racing — during its late summer meeting this year.

It’s all part of an effort to revitalize horse racing at Timonium, offered as part of the Maryland state fair. Timonium, Maryland’s lone bullring track, is also the only Thoroughbred fair meet in the East. Horse racing will take place at Timonium between August 24 and September 4, with live racing on seven of those days.

Under agreements reached over the last several days, the track at Timonium will offer an average of $185,000 per day in overnight purses. That’s an increase of nearly 20 percent from 2016.

During 2016, as an example, maiden special weight races at Timonium offered a purse of $32,000. Those at Maryland’s so-called “mile tracks,” Laurel Park and Pimlico, gave out $40,000 for the same race. This agreement will help close that gap.

Thoroughbred racing at Timonium. Photo courtesy of Jim McCue.

During the annual meeting of the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, which took place June 23, representatives of the State Fair, had sought “purse parity,” that is, to offer the same purses as the mile tracks. Their argument: that, if you considered money earned via parimutuel wagering plus that provided via slots revenue during the 10-day meeting, Timonium actually put money in Maryland’s racing coffers, rather than taking it out, as was widely believed.

The MTHA didn’t quite bite on purse parity, but it did agree to raise Timonium’s daily purses from the $159,000 daily average offered last year.

It also agreed to support the running of a stake at Timonium — the first time in a number of years that the Big T has hosted an added-money event. The $75,000 Coalition Stakes will take place August 26, the opening Saturday of the meet, with three-year-olds and up going 6 1/2 furlongs, a two-turn distance at Timonium.

In addition to the $75,000 base purse, the Coalition — named to honor the industry-wide spirit of cooperation widely viewed as responsible for the state racing industry’s recent renaissance — will have up to $35,000 in bonuses available. That includes $25,000 bonuses to Maryland-bred or -sired runners that finish in the money and another $10,000 to be paid to the winner if that horse is a graduate of a Fasig-Tipton Midlantic sale.

“This cooperative effort between all the parties involved in this race meet is a reflection of the continued team spirit in Maryland that has been such a huge factor in the renaissance Maryland’s Thoroughbred industry is currently enjoying,” said Maryland State Fair general manager Andy Cashman. “It’s all part of making racing in Maryland great again. We are all really excited about the upcoming meet at Timonium.”

In addition to the increase in purses and the stakes race, Timonium will offer a $20,000 Trainer’s Bonus for the trainer with most points, a $5,000 Trainer’s bonus for the trainer with most earnings during the meet, and a $50 groom’s award in every race for the best turned out horse and groom.

Live racing will take place Friday, August 25 through Sunday, August 27, and then over the Labor day weekend, Friday, September 1 through Monday, September 4. Post time will be 1:05 p.m. each day.