Proposed Maryland calendar calls for 187 racing dates in 2019

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Nov. 16, 2018

The proposed Maryland Thoroughbred racing calendar for 2019 calls for 187 programs from Jan. 1-Dec. 29 under a scheduled hammered out by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Jockey Club.

The Maryland Racing Commission will have the schedule on the agenda for its Dec. 13 meeting, which had been planned for late November but was moved to December. The MRC must approve the plan.

The proposal calls for 168 days at Laurel Park, 12 at Pimlico Race Course and seven at the Maryland State Fair at Timonium. It’s similar to the 2018 calendar but continues a trend by the MJC to add days at Laurel.

For seventh months of the year racing would be offered four days a week, primarily on a Thursday-through-Sunday schedule and several Monday holidays. When a Monday is added, the previous Thursday would be dark. Five months would have racing three days a week with a few exceptions: March, June, July, September and December.

Unlike this year, January and February are slated for four-day weeks in 2019. The MJC said it hopes to have more horses stabled at Pimlico this winter to help fill cards.

The Laurel winter/spring meet would run from Jan. 1-May 4; Pimlico would race from May 9-27; the Laurel summer meet would follow from May 31-Aug. 18; Timonium is slotted for Aug. 23-Sept. 2; and the Laurel fall meet would span Sept. 6-Dec. 29.

Colonial Downs, which is under new ownership and plans to launch historical horse racing early next year, expects to offer 15 live racing programs in 2019 but hasn’t said when it would race. The Virginia Racing Commission has a meeting scheduled for Dec. 13.

Meanwhile, Delaware Park and the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association are currently in negotiations on a new contract, so next year’s calendar remains to be seen. This year the track opened in early June and wrapped up its 81-day meet in late October.

(Laurel Park photo by Tom LaMarra)