Laurel Park surface reconstruction remains on schedule

Posted: July 16, 2020

Plans remain on track to complete the reconstruction of the Laurel Park dirt surface by the end of July, Mike Rogers of 1/ST RACING (The Stronach Group) told the Maryland Racing Commission at its July 15 meeting.

The project began in earnest soon after the Preakness Stakes in late May. Laurel-based horses that did not seek stabling out of state were moved to Pimlico Race Course or the Maryland State Fair at Timonium.

Rogers said the massive project “seems to be on schedule,” with a target date of Aug. 6 for horses to be permitted to gallop on the new surface. The substructure is completed as is the base for three-quarters of the track, and the cushion has been laid from the top of the far turn through the homestretch. Work to rebuild the base on part of the backstretch, where the substructure required extensive repair, continues.

Barn area renovations are continuing. Rogers said carpentry has been completed and 11 barns have been painted. He said Orkin has managed to get the rat population under control in the stable area.

“Everything seems to be coming along fine,” Rogers said.

TSG has hired Maryland-based Logan Freeman to serve as turf course consultant, Rogers said, and he will be part of the company’s overall network of turf experts. The Laurel turf course, which had drainage issues, has been regularly aerated and seeded since the spring and is expected to ready for use when the fall meet begins Sept. 9.

The Maryland Jockey Club is planning a four-day “guest experience” promotion Sept. 9-12 to welcome patrons back for live racing at Laurel, which last raced in mid-April before the remainder of the spring meet was moved to Pimlico. Audra Madison, MJC Director of Marketing, told the MRC outdoor signage outside of the track entrances off of Route 198 and Whiskey Bottom Road will be upgraded as part of an effort to raise awareness in the local community.

Madison also said there will a “fan appreciation day” at Pimlico Aug. 21, Maryland Pride Day, with a focus on the Park Heights community. The summer meet ends Aug. 22, with opening day of the seven-day State Fair meet set for Aug. 27.