When Thanksgiving and Horse Racing Meet; Thursday Selections at Laurel Park

November 21, 2012 | Gary Quill

Thanksgiving is the one day set aside for families to reflect on the past year and be thankful for ones health, happiness and prosperity. This year I’m thankful for the invitation to become a contributing member of the Horse Racing Nation (HRN) family. It was through the wonders of social media and this blog which caught the attention of a partner at HRN who recognized the need for a Maryland based blogger/handicapper.

As a kid growing up in northeast Baltimore, Thanksgiving Day was much like any other household in the United States. Wake up by 9:00 am to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, go outside for a quick pickup football game 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 3:00 pm, 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 fourth Thursday in November.

Laurel Park has its own Thanksgiving Day tradition which they started 25 years ago, in giving away either a pumpkin or apple pie (after the 5th race). First race post for the nine-race card is 11:05 a.m. with the $100,000 Geisha Stakes as the feature. Pies will be 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 am. And if you get a call from home telling you they have burnt the turkey, invite them to meet you at Laurel’s terrace dining room for a traditional Thanksgiving buffet for $24.99.

Friday will be “Guys Day Out” free admission and live race program for Laurel’s nine-race card for all men at Laurel Park and half-priced draft beers. In addition, patrons will have a chance to win tickets to their favorite sporting event including the 2013 Preakness!

The holiday weekend of racing in Maryland concludes on Saturday featuring the $100,000 Gin Talking Stakes for 2 year olds going 7 furlongs on the main oval. First post for Friday and Saturday will be 12:35 pm EST.

If you are playing the ponies today, my opinions on Laurel Park’s card is on the next page. Best of luck and hope you have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!