Turf racing at Pimlico suspended; stall transition begins

Turf racing at Pimlico Race Course will be suspended from Friday, June 25, through Sunday, June 27, to allow for maintenance of the course.

The Maryland Jockey Club June 24 said the maintenance is needed as a result of the extended meet at Pimlico, which originally was scheduled to end live racing May 31. Pimlico opened a few weeks early in late April and was approved to race through Aug. 22 because of the ongoing dirt surface reconstruction project at Laurel Park.

The MJC said the maintenance will allow the Pimlico turf course to be used through the end of the summer meet in late August.

"We want to do more aeration and fertilization," said MJC Track Superintendent Chris Bosley, who also oversees the turf courses at Pimlico and Laurel. "We want to be able to confidently say the turf course can hold up until we get back to Laurel (in early September). I think getting off the turf course this weekend will help us out a lot—it's a reasonable goal."

Four grass races had been scheduled for June 25, both short and long, and two turf races around two turns were carded for June 26. The June 27 program will have seven races, all on dirt. The card for Friday, July 2, will be drawn Sunday, June 27, and MJC officials said they are hopeful the turf course will be ready for use for the weekend of July 2-4.

The MJC also announced a change in training hours at Pimlico from Monday, June 28, through Thursday, July 1, because of the removal and replacement of the temporary tent barns being used to house horses that were relocated from Laurel as well as those that ship in on race day from the Maryland State Fair at Timonium and other facilities in the state and region.

Training hours at Pimlico for all horses on those four days will be 5:00-7:30 a.m. with a break from 7:30-8:00 a.m. Training will resume from 8:00-10:00 a.m. but only for horses stabled on the Pimlico Road side of the property. Gate schooling will be available Wednesday, June 30, and Thursday, July 1, from 6:30-7:30 a.m. and 8:00-9:00 a.m.

Steve Koch, Senior Vice President of Racing for 1/ST RACING (The Stronach Group), said the barn transition project already has begun. The temporary stalls currently on the grounds at Pimlico must be relocated because of a previous commitment, and TSG is sending 140 stalls from Santa Anita Park. The tent structures to house the stalls will come from local companies.

There are currently 120 temporary stalls at Pimlico. The transition process will begin in earnest June 28 with a goal of having all 140 stalls available by July 8. An 18-stall barn behind the old wooden grandstand near the far turn at Pimlico is already being constructed to facilitate the transition.

Koch said he has mapped out a plan to address "the transition in the same footprint without displacing horses." He said the strategy is to add stalls while removing receiving stalls to accommodate horses and ensure that each race day—currently Friday, Saturday and Sunday—120 stalls are available.

If all of the 140 stalls from Santa Anita Park are usable, there will be 20 more stalls at Pimlico than are currently available. When the first set of temporary stalls were constructed, Gulfstream Park, another TSG property, sent more than enough stall mats to accommodate the number of stalls, Koch said.


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