The billboard at the entrance to the Maryland State Fair reads, “Winner Winner, Corn Dog Dinner! Games, Rides, Racing, Concerts, Animals, Exhibits, Food & More.”
That says it all. The only State Fair anywhere east of the Mississippi with a sanctioned, ten day Thoroughbred race meeting kicks off on Friday at 1:05 p.m. Live racing runs through Labor Day.
During that run, only Tuesday August 27 is dark. This year's meeting has grown from seven to ten days after the Maryland Horsemen's Association contributed monies to subsidize added programs. Purses in Maryland are also on the increase thanks to Maryland casino revenue that is earmarked for horse racing.
“We're excited about the purse increases and excited to have live racing again,” said racing secretary Georganne Hale. Friday's races are the first in Maryland since Pimlico ended its spring meeting on Belmont Day, Saturday June 8. There are nine races on opening day.
Travis Dunkelberger will defend his 2012 riding title. Last year he won with 10 of 23 mounts, a 43% strike rate. Dunkelberger's previous heroics at Timonium include winning seven races on one program, on two different occasions.
Mid-Atlantic mainstays Hugh McMahon, Jamie Ness, Dale Capuano and Scott Lake are plotting to share in a $10,000 training bonus, awarded for most wins and most starters during the meet. McMahon will saddle the speedy 5-year old Ellipse in the 4-furlong allowance feature.
Dining is offered on the second level of the grandstand and simulcasting is available on both levels on live race days. Lawn chairs and cameras are welcome.
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