Maryland sets official schedule for 2018 racing dates

Posted: Nov. 29, 2017

Maryland tracks will offer 178 racing programs in 2018 under an official schedule recently released by the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

There will be no break in the action next year unlike this year, when there was an almost two-week gap between the Pimlico Race Course spring meet and the spring/summer meet at Laurel Park. In keeping with recent trends, there will be nine more racing programs in 2018 compared with 2017.

Laurel is scheduled for 159 days of racing beginning Jan. 1. For the most part during the winter/spring meet, racing will be held Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through May 6, along with four Mondays: Jan. 1, Jan. 15, Feb. 19 and April 2, the day after Easter.

Pimlico will race 12 days from May 10-29, with a four-day week, three-day week and a five-day week. The Preakness Stakes is set for May 19.

Laurel’s spring/summer meet will run from June 1-Aug. 20. Racing will be held three days a week—Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays—through July 29. In August, Monday racing will be added to make for three four-day racing weeks.

The Maryland State Fair at Timonium will again offer seven days of racing from Aug. 24-26 and Aug. 31-Sept. 3.

Laurel will reopen Sept. 7 and race Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 30. Four-day racing weeks—Mondays will be added—begin Oct. 5 and continue through Dec. 31 with a few exceptions: Racing will be held Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, rather than Monday, Nov. 26; and Christmas Eve, a Monday, is a dark day.

In looking for opportunities to add racing days, MJC President Sal Sinatra said Mondays in August could be productive because Saratoga Race Course is open Mondays and pari-mutuel handle could trickle down to Laurel from various wagering outlets. It’s also expected that Parx Racing, which has applied for 170 programs in 2018, will take it’s usual three-week break in August.

In a change from this year, Monmouth Park in New Jersey was approved for four-day racing weeks in August next year on a Thursday-through-Sunday schedule. The 2018 racing schedule for Delaware Park will be released in January, but the track traditionally races four days a week in August (Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays).

(Laurel Park photo by Tom LaMarra)