The holidays came early for all the hard working folks in the Maryland horse racing industry. Today (Tuesday, Dec. 20th) at its monthly meeting the Maryland Racing Commission approved an agreement by the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association to conduct 146 days of racing in 2012. This represents the same number of racing days that were scheduled the last two years.
“We are very pleased to be racing next year,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “I would like to personally thank Governor O’Malley, his chief legislative officer Joe Bryce and the Maryland Racing Commission, especially John McDaniel, for mediating the process. This agreement provides a foundation for continuing efforts to create a long-term solution to Maryland racing.”
The Maryland Jockey Club will conduct a Winter and Fall meeting at Laurel Park. The winter stand will begin Wednesday, January 4, 2012 with live racing taking places four (4) days a week (Wednesday thru Sunday), with some holiday exceptions. The dates for the 48-day meet are as follows with 1st Race Post time 12:35pm EST.
2012 Laurel Park Winter Meeting
Feb. 29-Mar. 1-2-3
Pimlico will host 29 live racing days in the Spring, Opening Day Friday, March 30th concluding with the 137th running of the $1 million Grade 1 Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 19th.
Speaking of the Preakness, for the first time in its history the race will allow two (2) Also-Eligibles. In case more than the maximum (14) horses are entered in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, two additional entries will be accepted as an Also-Eligible. Those runners would only be eligible to run if any of the entries of the original field are declared from the race after the Post Position drawn on Wednesday of preakness week until scratch time Friday morning, the morning before race day.
This decision comes on the heels of Churchill Downs announcement late last week that the Derby would have Also-Eligibles for the first time. “It is very similar to what Churchill Downs is doing for the Derby”, said Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary Georganne Hale. “It enables us to still run a full field of 14 if there is a late scratch by 9 a.m. Friday morning. We have set the deadline because on that afternoon advanced wagering starts on the Preakness”.
After Preakness Day live racing will take a 15 week break, which will include seven (7) live days of racing at Timonium during the Maryland State Fair. Then on September 7th Laurel Park will open for it 69-day fall meeting with live racing concluding in late December 2012.
As 2011 comes to a close, I began to reflect on the news worthy events that took place either on a Maryland thoroughbred track, directly impacted Maryland thoroughbred horse racing or a milestone reached by a local owner, trainer or jockey. Next week, my final blog of 2011 will be my Top Ten horse racing stories of 2011 that has a connection toMaryland’s Sport of Kings.
Fell free to comment here and tell me about one that you think that I might forget to put in the Top Ten.
Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or a Joyous Kwanzaa but most of all make a New Year’s resolution to support the Maryland thoroughbred racing industry in 2012.