- Published: Sunday, 04 July 2021 19:19
The Maryland State Fair at Timonium will offer the highest daily average purses in its history for the seven-day meet that runs from Friday, Aug. 27, to Monday, Sept, 6, and will experiment with a “twilight” racing card on opening day.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association Board of Directors June 29 unanimously approved a 15% across-the-board overnight purse increase from July 2 through the end of 2021. Timonium’s base purses, normally lower than those at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, will be the same—including the 15% in additional funds.
The MTHA also agreed to provide funding from the Thoroughbred Purse Account for a stakes, the Timonium Juvenile, for 2-year-olds at 6 1/2 furlongs; contribute $1,000 toward the Maryland State Fair scholarship program; provide $5,000 for the “Horseland” program during the state fair; and contribute $20,000 from the Thoroughbred Purse Account for a trainers’ bonus program that has been held in recent years to encourage participation at the entry box.
First post time for the 2021 meet will be 12:40 p.m. with the exception of opening day, when it will be 3 p.m.
Bill Reightler, Director of Racing Operations for the State Fair, said the experiment is designed to attract more interest in the racing product, and it also will dovetail with the awarding of 10 college scholarships throughout the course of the racing card.
The final race, depending on the number of races, will go off between 7:30-8 p.m.
“We came up with the idea because of the Timonium location (near a large population), and racing on a summer evening can help our goal to attract a younger crowd,” Reightler said. “We’re going to coordinate it with College Day and offer reduced hot dog and beer prices. “We see our role at the State Fair as promoting racing to new fans. When you talk to racing fans you’ll hear many them say their dad took them to the racetrack for the first time. You never know when the next significant person—the whale—is out there.”
Reightler said the initiatives are the result of “full support” from Gerry Brewster, Chairman of the Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society, State Fair President Donna Myers, the State Fair Board of Directors, and the State Fair Racing Committee. He also thanked the horsemen’s organization for its continued support of the Timonium meet.
“We can’t thank the MTHA Board of Directors and the horsemen in Maryland for giving us the tools to have a successful race meet,” Reightler said. The $20,000 trainers’ bonus this year will be based upon only a horse’s first start of the meet in calculations for the bonuses.