Horses can return to Laurel Park beginning Aug. 8

Horses can begin returning to Laurel Park Sunday, Aug. 8, and training—including workouts—will be available Tuesday, Aug. 10, Maryland racing officials announced July 28 during a community Zoom meeting hosted by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

The massive reconstruction of the Laurel dirt surface, which involved replacement of the base and substructure, is nearing completion. The original target date for training to begin was Aug. 6, but executives with 1/ST RACING (The Stronach Group) had said earlier that could be pushed back by several days.

Steve Koch, TSG Senior Vice President of Racing, said the final grading and placement of the cushion is underway and will continue into the week of Aug. 1. The one-mile chute will be the last part of the project. He said the final four days prior to training will be reserved for the track maintenance crew to work the new cushion material on all parts of the surface.

“(Track Superintendent) Chris Bosley and his crew need to work the track for it to be safe for training and racing,” Koch said. “The cushion will be all new—actually the whole track is all new.”

Mick Peterson, Director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, said the new cushion is a mixture based on consistency with the surfaces at regional racetracks. Also important, he said, is access to a regular supply of consistent material that is subject to a quality control program. Stancills Inc. of Cecil County, Md., is the provider of the material, which is about 85% sand, 12% silt and 3% clay. The cushion, much of which has been laid, is four inches in depth.

The last day of training at the Maryland State Fair at Timonium will be Saturday, Aug. 7. Horsemen are asked to strip their stalls before they return to Laurel, where straw and shavings will be permitted for stalls.

Hotel rooms in Timonium that are currently occupied by relocated backstretch workers will be available through Thursday, Aug. 12. Those with special circumstances should contact the MTHA.

As was the case when horses were relocated from Laurel to Timonium and Pimlico Race Course, the Maryland Jockey Club said Simoff Horse Transport will coordinate shipping for those who don’t make other arrangements,

Regarding the turf course at Laurel, Koch said deep-tine aeration continues and will be part of a permanent grass maintenance program. Though the course is suffering from some heat stress because of high temperatures and very little rain, “it is now draining way better than it was,” he said. 

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