Laurel Park to open fall meet with more stakes, higher purses

by | 09.04.2012 | 1:01pm

After a 15-week break, live racing will resume at the major Maryland tracks two days after Labor Day. The 2012 fall meeting begins at Laurel Park Wednesday afternoon (post time 1:10 p.m). Racing will take place four days a week through the end of the year on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule, holidays excluded.

“Our last live racing day was Preakness day at Pimlico, so it will be good to be back,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “Expect to see plenty of turf racing during the meet. For the bettors, we are bringing back the JACKPOT PICK 5, which was a very popular for us in May at Pimlico where the Preakness week carryover grew to over $1 million. Since we have been away for the summer, it is important to have a wager that could lead to a major payday.”

The JACKPOT PICK 5  is a 50¢ minimum wager that pays the jackpot carryover to a single, unique 50¢ ticket. Multiple winners or “best of fives” split 60% of the daily net pool. The remaining 40% of the daily net pool builds the jackpot carryover.

The 69-day fall meeting will include average daily purses of $240,000. The Maryland Horse Breeders Association will provide $25,000 to $50,000 bonuses for Maryland-bred runners in 16 stakes races, meaning the 34 fall stakes could be worth more than $4.1 million.

Chuckas indicated there will be promotions on the majority of Saturday afternoons during the 17-week stand. The highlights include Racing 101 Day At The Races (September 29), Crab Feast (September 29), Track Of Terror-Haunted House and Dance Party (October 26), Oktoberfest (October 27), Laurel Park Cap Giveaway (October 27) and Brew and Bourbon Blow Out (November 17). Visit www.laurelpark.com for more information.

From a racing standpoint, the headline events are the 27th running of the Jim McKay Maryland Million Day for the offspring of Maryland-based stallions on Saturday, Oct. 6 and the return of the Fall Festival of Racing three weeks later. That card will feature five stakes races on the turf as well as the $350,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.

“The Maryland Million is the staple event of the Laurel fall meet,” added Chuckas. “Bringing back the Fall Festival of Racing was important to us and we thank the horsemen for working with us to not make it happen and also to be willing to boost the purse of the Dash up $200,000 from a year ago. This will help us draw some of the nation's top sprinters not going to the Breeders' Cup the following weekend.”

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