Strong local participation helps Maryland fair meet grow

By: Tom LaMarra

Posted: Sept. 6, 2007

The recent Maryland State Fair meet at Timonium proved successful on several fronts, including what is believed to be record pari-mutuel wagering and strong participation from Maryland-based horsemen.

In addition, trainers Kieron Magee and Claudio Gonzalez earned the largest prizes in the trainers’ bonus contest.

According to statistics provided by the Maryland State Fair, total handle for the seven-day session was $5,261,522, up 47.2% from $3,572,474 for the same number of days in 2016. On Aug. 27, the first Saturday of the meet, wagering on 10 races totaled $1,085,504, perhaps an all-time high for one day at Timonium.

There were three 10-race cards and four nine-race cards for a total of 66 races. Average wagering per race came in at $79,720. Average daily handle per day was $751,646, up from $510,353 last year.
Attendance at the meet—fair admission includes racing—increased 6.4%.

Bill Reightler, coordinator for racing operations at the Maryland State Fair, noted the cooperation among the fair, Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Horse Breeders Association in helping grow the meet. The MTHA earlier this year agreed to hike Timonium purses to an average of $185,000 a day to bring them closer to those at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.

The first stakes in several years, the Aug. 26 Coalition, was $75,000 guaranteed but because of Maryland-bred or -sired bonus money, total available money was $97,500. The winner, Robert Cole Jr.’s Blu Moon Ace—claimed for $30,000 in his previous start—banked $60,000 for the win.

Cole was named meet owner. As for the $20,000 trainer bonus, which is designed to encourage larger fields, Magee earned $5,000 in the points category while Gonzalez collected $5,000 in the earnings category. Others who collected a check for points were Wayne Potts ($4,000) Hugh McMahon ($2,000) and Richard Sillaman ($2,000).

Maryland Jockey Club Director of Racing Georganne Hale said the meet was very positive from a racing standpoint, and she noted the support from horsemen based at Laurel and Pimlico, the two MJC tracks in the state. The MJC racing office handles the Timonium meet for the Maryland State Fair.

According to MJC stats, Laurel-based horses accounted for 266 starts, or 56.4% of the total. Laurel and Pimlico combined produced 369 starts, which is 78.3% of total starts.

(Maryland State Fair photo by Tom LaMarra)