Laurel Park

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Laurel Park

Laurel Park is a horse-racing track in Laurel, Maryland, United States. It opened in 1911, at Laurel Race Track Rd.

History of Laurel Park Race Track

1911 – It was opened on October 2, 1911, under the management of the Laurel Four County Fair. 

1914 – Philip J. Dwyer and James Butler purchased the track and appointed Matt Winn as the general manager. Winn is acknowledged as the man who introduced the Kentucky Derby on the racing map.

1918 – The Army Engineers utilized the field as a training camp. 

1946 – A fire broke out in the stables and fortunately saved 60 horses. 

1947 – The Maryland Jockey Club, owned by Timonium and Pimlico, purchased Laurel Park from the Butler estate to shift the Pimlico meeting to Laurel. However, Maryland General Assembly rejected the idea. Hence, the track was sold in 1950 to Morris Schapiro, who appointed his youngest son, John D. Schapiro as the new track president.

1950 – Under the Schapiro era, they renamed Laurel Park to Laurel Race Course, and the Washington, D.C. International was introduced at 1 1⁄2 miles on the turf. 

1953 – The track also opened a new clubhouse and turf club.

1954 – Another stable fire occurred and only saved 14 horses. 

1959 – Laurel Park race track extended its turf course from seven furlongs to one mile and the main track from one mile to one mile and one-eighth to prepare for the International race.

1964 – The management also remodeled the grandstand and the turf. However, another fire broke out and killed 34 horses. 

1966 – Laurel again renovated its clubhouse and grandstand to host winter racing in 1966.

1982 – The track installed an air conditioning system in the grandstand and clubhouse when Laurel Park was granted summer racing dates in 1982.

1984 – The 34-year Schapiro era ended when governor Harry Hughes’s selection purchased it for Economic Development secretary Frank J. De Francis and his partners, Robert and John “Tommy” Manfuso.

1985 The innovative Laurel project was created and introduced by the Sports Palace. It is a facility innovation that creates an environment of the combined ambiance of a plush casino and state-of-the-art technology. It featured computerized handicapping and a video racing library. 

1986 – Another refurbishment to the racetrack, renovating the first floor of the clubhouse. The club bar and concession stands were improved with black marble, brass, and neon accents. It also enhanced the three dining rooms, the Silks Room, the Ruffian Room, and the Sky Suite Club. 

1987 – The Laurel Park Race track underwent enhancement and modernized the second floor of the clubhouse. It added two new cinema theaters on the clubhouse’s second level and the other on the grandstand mezzanine.

1988 – Inter-track wagering commenced at Laurel in early 1988.

1989 – Frank DeFrancis died in August, so his son Joe DeFrancis served as president of Laurel and Pimlico.

1994 – During Joe DeFrancis’s management, the track’s name returned to its original name, “Laurel Park,” and underwent another renovation project. It added Public Relations under the direction of Karin De Francis.

1997 – The racetrack had major enhancements in its main entrance, grandstand interior, and backstretch barns. 

1998The Laurel Park race track rebuilt the nine-furlong racing strip.

2004 – Another massive refurbishment occurred, so they closed the backstretch and racing surfaces at Laurel Park from mid-June 2004 to early January 2005 to widen both racing surfaces.

2009 – Despite the major improvements, Laurel Park racetrack went bankrupt in 2009. Hence, it was bought by the Stronach Group, the track’s current owner, until its current physical appearance.

2010Penn National Gaming and MI Developments started joint ownership of the Maryland Jockey Club for the operation of Laurel Park. 

2011The Stronach Group purchased Penn National’s minority ownership of the Maryland Jockey Club in June. In May, Frank Stronach surrendered the management of MI Development in exchange for Magna’s former gaming assets, bestowing him control over Laurel Park. 

2013 – After failing to establish slot machine gambling, Laurel Park owners (Stronach Group) publicized their plans to utilize the Maryland Racetrack Facility Redevelopment Account. They planned to use it to finance year-round racing, facility enhancements, and a tunnel under the adjacent B&O railroad tracks, connecting to Laurel Park Station on the Howard County portion of the Racetrack property.

2018 – The track started using a GPS-based timing system. 

2019 – Part of the agreement between The Stronach Group and the city of Baltimore is the Stronach Group would offer both Pimlico and Laurel Park to newly established government entities that would supervise the properties, with Stronach licensed to host the race meets. Laurel’s grandstand was demolished and replaced with a new one, with new dirt, synthetic, and grass surfaces for racing. They also installed new housing for backstretch workers and new barns. 

2021 – Laurel’s spring racing dates were shifted to Pimlico Race Course because of Laurel’s main track surface issues.

Track Details and other Facilities​

Track Details

  • Dirt Track
    • 1-mile 600 feet oval 
    • a 7 1/2 furlong chute to the first finish line
    • one turn mile chute to the second finish line
    • 1,089 feet  is the length of the stretch from the last turn to the first finish line
    • 1,419 feet  is the length of the stretch from the last turn to the second finish line
    • 95 feet is the width of the track
  • Turf Track
    • 7/8 mile and 254 feet inside the main track
    • The stretch length is 1,089 feet to the finish line 
    • The width of the turf is 142 feet
    • Turf Composition is sandy loam
    • 90% turf-type tall fescue and 10% bluegrass
    • Grass height maintained at 4 inches during the racing season
    • Turf Courses (rail location and name)
      • On the rail – All Along
      • 17 feet out – Bowl Game
      • 35 feet out – Kelso
      • 52 feet out – Dahlia
      • 70 feet out – Exceller
      • 87 feet out – Fort Marcy

Other Facilities

  • 🐎Stable Area
      • 1058 stalls 1
      • 165 rooms for accommodations
      • Track kitchen located off backstretch between 1/2 mile pole and 3/8 pole.
  • 🐎Mechanical-Electronic Equipment
  • 🐎Police 
      • Anne Arundel County Police
      • Booth on the first floor of the grandstand.
  • 🐎First Aid  
      • Doctor and Nurse in attendance
      • Office on the main floor of the grandstand.
  • 🐎Jockey’s Quarters 
      • Situated next to the racing secretary’s office across from the paddock.
  • 🐎Betting Windows 
    •  350 and automated teller machines.
  • 🐎Meetings, Events & Conferences
    • 40,000 sq. ft
    • non-traditional event spaces
    • can host up to 600 guests.
  • 🐎Catering & Events Menus
    • GIII-servIce event and menu planning service. 
  • 🐎Dinings
    • Tips Restaurant 
      • First Floor Clubhouse
      • Open at 11:30 AM
      • Friday – Sunday
    • Tycoons Restaurant And Bar
      • First Floor Clubhouse
      • Features 30 televisions
      • Primary restaurant for the simulcasting
      • Open at 11:30 AM
      • Friday – Sunday
  • 🐎Sports Book
    • Second Floor Clubhouse
    • Open at 11:30 AM
    • Saturday – Sunday
  • 🐎Stone Bar
    • First Floor Grandstand
    • Open at 11:30 AM
    • Friday – Sunday
  • 🐎Concessions Area
    • First Floor Grandstand
    • Open at 11:30 AM
    • Wednesday – Sunday

Major Events and Schedule

Pimlico—Laurel Graded Races

  • Grade 1 
  • Grade 2
    • 🐴Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (Grade 3—1973 to 1975; Grade 2—1976 to present) 
    • 🐴Dixie Stakes (Grade 2—1973 to 1989, 1994 to present; Grade 3—1990 to 1993)
  • Grade 3
    • 🐴Allaire duPont Distaff Stakes (Grade 3—1994 to 2006, 2011 to present; Grade 2—2007 to 2009)
    • 🐴Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup-G3 (Grade 2—2009, 2010, 2013 to 2017; Grade 3—2007, 2008, 2018 to present)
    • 🐴Barbara Fritchie Stakes (Grade 2—1992 to 2018; Grade 3—1973 to 1991, 2019 to present)
    • 🐴Chick Lang Stakes (Grade 3—2005 to 2010; 2019 to present)
    • 🐴Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (Grade 3—1992 to 1993, 2016 to present; Grade 2—1994 to 1998; Grade 1—1999 to 2009)
    • 🐴Gallorette Stakes (First graded 1973)
    • 🐴General George Stakes (Grade 2—1991 to 2012; Grade 3—2013 to present)
    • 🐴Maryland Sprint Stakes (First graded 1994)
    • 🐴Miss Preakness Stakes (Grade 3—2002 to 2009; 2015 to present)
    • 🐴Pimlico Special Stakes (Grade 1—1990 to 2008; not run 2009-2011; Grade 3—2012 to present)

Listed Stakes Races

With the Year inaugurated and the season

      • 🐴Laurel Futurity (1921) Autumn
      • 🐴Jennings Handicap (1923) Winter
      • 🐴Selima Stakes (1926) Autumn
      • 🐴Nellie Morse Stakes (1941) Winter
      • 🐴Japan Turf Cup Stakes (1952) Autumn
      • 🐴Laurel Dash Stakes (1988) Autumn
      • 🐴John B. Campbell Handicap (1954) Winter
      • 🐴Native Dancer Stakes (1966) Winter
      • 🐴Conniver Stakes (1969) Spring
      • 🐴All Brandy Stakes (1970) Autumn
      • 🐴Geisha Stakes (1973) Winter
      • 🐴Anne Arundel County Stakes (1974) Autumn
      • 🐴What A Summer Stakes (1978) Winter
      • 🐴Twixt Stakes (1978) Autumn
      • 🐴Caesar’s Wish Stakes (1978) Spring
      • 🐴Find Stakes (1978) Autumn 
      • 🐴Federico Tesio Stakes (1981) Spring
      • 🐴Pearl Necklace Stakes (1981) Summer
      • 🐴All Along Stakes (1981) Autumn
      • 🐴Maryland Juvenile Championship (1982) Autumn
      • 🐴Maryland Racing Media Stakes (1982) Winter
      • 🐴Mister Diz Stakes (1983) Summer
      • 🐴Jameela Stakes (1983) Summer
      • 🐴Dahlia Stakes at Laurel Park (1985) Spring
      • 🐴Deputed Testamony Stakes (1986) Spring
      • 🐴Safely Kept Stakes (1986) Autumn
      • 🐴Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship (1986) Autumn
      • 🐴Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes (1986) Winter
      • 🐴Marshua Stakes (1987) Winter
      • 🐴Primonetta Stakes (1988) Spring
      • 🐴Private Terms Stakes (1990) Spring
      • 🐴Fire Plug Stakes (1993) Winter
      • 🐴Wide Country Stakes (1994) Winter
      • 🐴Miracle Wood Stakes (1995) Winter
      • 🐴Commonwealth Oaks (2004) Summer

Renamed events (last running/current name) ​

  • 🐴Broad Brush (2013 – Richard W. Small)
  • 🐴Caesar’s Wish (2017 – Beyond The Wire)
  • 🐴Columbia (1995 – Safely Kept)
  • 🐴Commonwealth Turf Cup (2016 – Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup)
  • 🐴Hirsch Jacobs (2009 – Chick Lang)
  • 🐴Lady Baltimore (2016 – All Along)
  • 🐴Laurel Turf Cup (2018 – Japan Turf Cup)
  • 🐴Maryland Breeders’ Cup Handicap (2005 – Maryland Sprint)
  • 🐴Marylander (2016 – Heft)
  • 🐴Old Mutual Turf Sprint (2008 – Jim McKay Turf Sprint)
  • 🐴Pimlico Distaff Breeders’ Cup (2005 – Allaire duPont Distaff)
  • 🐴Pimlico Futurity (1966 – Laurel Futurity)
  • 🐴Pimlico Oaks (1951 – Black-Eyed Susan)
  • 🐴Queen Isabella (1993 – Nellie Morse)
  • 🐴Woodlawn Stakes (2009 – James W. Murphy)

Laurel Park Racing Schedule

Laurel Park Live Racing:
General: Thurdays, Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays
December: Fridays, Saturdays, & Sundays

Location and Access to the Racecourse

  • Laurel Park race track is located at RT 198 & Racetrack Road, Laurel, MD 20725.
    It is approximately 14 miles from Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • Train service is available for laurel park from Baltimore and Washington D.C. 
  • It can also be accessed via MARC Train at the Laurel Race Track station and RTA Buses 409 and 502.
  • It is free for all 12 years old and under but must be accompanied by an adult.


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Laurel Park

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