Friday’s Opening Of Laurel Park Meet Brings Big Fields, Emphasis On Turf Racing

by | 05.31.2018 | 1:24pm
Racing over the turf at Laurel Park

Full fields and competitive racing over its world-class turf course will once again be the focus as Laurel Park gears up to open its 40-day summer meet Friday, June 1.

A total of 99 horses, an average of 9.9 starters per race, were entered for a 10-race season-opening program that gets under way at 1:10 p.m. ET. Five races are scheduled to be contested on grass over the All Along and Dahlia turf course layouts, with an average field size of 12.6 horses.

Highlighting the card is a $42,000 entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/16 miles over the Dahlia turf course in Race 9 that attracted a field of 12 led by 124-pound topweight Chargin Storm, a winner of three of four starts this year to be ridden by Horacio Karamanos from Post 6.

“We're very excited about our summer program at Laurel,” said Maryland Jockey Club president and general manager Sal Sinatra. “We have one of the finest turf courses in the country and horsemen love to participate in our program. We'll have full fields and quality racing and we will see many of the top stables racing here. We are anxious to get started.”

The Saturday, June 2, program saw 107 horses entered in 11 races, seven of them scheduled for the turf, which drew an average of 11.14 starters. Featured on the card are a 4 ½-furlong maiden claiming event for 2-year-olds in Race 2 and a $47,000 third-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up in Race 9, both over the main track, and a $42,000 allowance for 3-year-olds and up going 5 ½ furlongs on the turf in Race 10.

Jockey Victor Carrasco won last year's summer meet crown with 36 victories, three more than Jevian Toledo, who finished 2017 as Maryland's leading rider. Carrasco has been sidelined since September after breaking his leg in two places in a spill at Delaware Park, and just began getting on horses again May 22.

Feargal Lynch won the recently concluded 12-day Preakness Meet at Pimlico, and will be joined in the jockey colony by such top riders as Jorge Vargas Jr., Laurel's winter-spring meet titlist, apprentice Weston Hamilton, who dueled with Vargas for the riding crown, and Hall of Famer Edgar Prado, who earned his 7,000th career victory May 15.

Maryland's leading trainer in 2017, Claudio Gonzalez edged Kieron Magee, 21-19, for last year's summer title, the first of three consecutive meet championships that included Laurel's 2017 fall and 2018 winter-spring stands. Magee, John Robb and Mary Eppler tied for the preceding Preakness Meet at Pimlico crown.

The summer meet begins with 13 stakes worth $1 million in purses, kicked off Saturday, June 16 with the $75,000 Alma North for 3-year-old fillies sprinting seven furlongs on the main track. The richest stakes of the meet is the $100,000 Stormy Blues, a 5 ½-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-old fillies July 7.

Racing will be conducted Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from June 1 through Sunday, July 22 before adding Thursdays starting July 26 and continuing through closing day, Sunday, Aug. 19. Racing shifts to the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium Aug. 24 to Labor Day, Sept. 3.

Virginia-bred/sired horses will be featured with four turf stakes worth $75,000 apiece on both Saturday, June 23 and Saturday, Aug. 4.

On Aug. 12, Laurel will host the $75,000 Polynesian for 3-year-olds and up going seven furlongs as part of the revived Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series, which kicked off with the $100,000 Caplan Brothers Jim McKay Turf Sprint and $100,000 Skipat May 18 and the $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) and $100,000 The Very One May 19 at legendary Pimlico Race Course.

MATCH is a series of 25 races scheduled at tracks in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania which debuted in 1997 and ran for five years.

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram