BARBARA FRITCHIE AND GENERAL GEORGE HANDICAPS HEADLINE WINTER STAKES SCHEDULE
LAUREL, MD. 12-12—The 2012 Laurel Park winter meeting will feature 11 stakes races, pending Maryland Racing Commission approval, after the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association agreed to a schedule. The next commission meeting is Tuesday, January 17 at Laurel Park.
Headlining the program will be a pair of Grade 2 $200,000 seven-furlong sprints on President’s Day weekend: the Barbara Fritchie Handicap for fillies and mares on Saturday, February 18 and the General George Handicap for males two days later.
“We had to cancel four stakes because we got a late start not knowing when the meet would start but because of that we were able to raise the purses for all but one of the remaining stakes,” said Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary Georganne Hale.
The stakes schedule begins with the $100,000 Dancing Count Stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday, January 28
Hale also indicated that average overnight daily purses will be increased from $185,000 to $205,000 beginning with the second condition book for the winter stand, starting Wednesday, February 1.
“We will have a purse increase across the board,” added Hale. “Some are 10%, others 11%. It will make our purses competitive with Charles Town, Penn National and Parx Racing. Horsemen will not have to go out of town to run because the purse is so much bigger. We are holding our own and this will boost morale, especially on the heels of the fact we will be running the same schedule as a year ago.”
The Laurel winter meet began January 4, with live racing on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (with holiday exceptions) through March 24.
Live racing then shifts to Pimlico Race Course for the spring stand, which includes the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1), the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, on Saturday, May 19.