- Published: Saturday, 05 June 2021 11:21
The post-Preakness environment in Maryland was one of transition, as more than 700 horses based at Laurel Park began shipping to Pimlico Race Course, and a week later to the Maryland State Fair at Timonium.
The move was necessitated by a major overhaul of the Laurel Park dirt surface. The last day of limited training at Laurel was May 25—the day after horses were cleared to travel to and stable at Timonium.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association arranged for temporary tented stalls at Pimlico to accommodate the large number of horses. At Timonium, a 60-stall tent barn that was used for the recent Fasig-Tipton sale has remained on the grounds. In addition, more than 100 backstretch workers are being housed at two hotels in proximity to the State Fairgrounds as well as in dormitory rooms that were cleared for occupation June 3.
“I can’t say enough about the horsemen, the owners and trainers,” Maryland Jockey Club President Sal Sinatra said. “Everybody pitched in—the MTHA and our team at the MJC.”
Feedback from horsemen based at Timonium, where the barn area has been used only for auctions and ship-ins for the short race meets for many years, has been positive. All of the activity of a full barn area is reminiscent of the days when Timonium held a 40-day meet in the summer, said Bill Reightler, Director of Racing Operations for the State Fair.
Horsemen noted the relatively short trip to Pimlico from Timonium for racing is a bonus given the circumstances that led to the temporary relocation.
The removal of all horses from Laurel has allowed for acceleration of the racing surface project, which entails stripping the entire track to the base, examining and perhaps repairing parts of the sub-base, and laying down new cushion material. The project was addressed during the May 27 meeting of the Maryland Racing Commission.
MRC Executive Director Mike Hopkins said that if the weather cooperates, the agency was told the project should be completed by the end of June, though horses would need roughly two weeks to gallop or work on the track before it could be used for racing.
The MTHA will continue to provide updates on the project at mdhorsemen.com and will continue sending text messages to keep racing participants abreast of any changes in training schedules or related developments.