When Thanksgiving and Horse Racing Meet

November 23, 2010 | Gary Quill

As a kid growing up in northeast Baltimore, Thanksgiving Day was much like any other household in the United States. Wake up by 9:00am to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, go outside for a quick pickup football game in Herring Run Park with whoever may show-up, return home in time to watch the early NFL game from Detroit and then…


Well, as I grew older it became apparent to me that my family’s Thanksgiving Day tradition took a small detour from the majority of Americans. That most families dinner commenced around 3pm, give or take an hour. Not so according to the Quill family Thanksgiving tradition. We could watch the Dallas football game until about halftime which was about the time my Pop-Pop Quill and great-uncle Ray would arrive at our house from a day at the track. Priceless!


That was back in the 60’s and early 70’s. I miss those days… and my Pop-Pop and Uncle Ray, who have long passed. And with their passing, so did the Quill family Thanksgiving Day tradition. My Dad and I are still able to enjoy a day at the races from time to time, but never on Thanksgiving Day. The Quill family is now scattered throughout our great country and over the past 20 years I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been together on Thanksgiving Day. Be thankful if you can spend this Thanksgiving Day with your entire family and think about what tradition is special to you on the last Thursday in November.     


Laurel Park has its own Thanksgiving Day tradition which they started 23 years ago, in giving away either a pumpkin or apple pie (after the 5th race). First race post for the nie-race card is 11:05 a.m. Pies will able available at both Laurel Park and Pimlico. For those who wish to arrive early to handicap the card, free donuts with coffee or cider will also be available from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. And if you get a call from home telling you they burnt the turkey, invite them to meet you at Laurel’s terrace dining room for a traditional, home-style Thanksgiving buffet for $23.


Friday will be “Guys Day Out” with free admission to Laurel Park’s nine-race program for all men, half-priced draft beers and giveaways, including chances to win tickets to Baltimore Ravens, Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals games and a $200 gift card to Bass Pro.


The holiday week continues Saturday afternoon with a nine-race card and more drawings. Prizes include a 60” HD LCD television, a $200 gift card to Best Buy, a $100 gift card to Lowes and a pair of $100 gift cards to Corridor Fine Wine. First post for Friday and Saturday will be 12:35 p.m. It’s a great time to enjoy Maryland thoroughbred horse racing.


If you are fortune enough to have Wednesday afternoon free in preparation of Thanksgiving, then you might be interested in taking in Laurel’s card. It features MD-bred gelding Ben’s Cat, who will attempt to remain undefeated as he goes for number 8 in the 8th race. If you need some help with your selections, you can always get my opinions at GQ’s No Chalk Zone.


Best of Luck and hope you have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!