Officials with Fair Hill Races, which annually holds jump racing events in Elkton, Md., announced Thursday the decision to skip the 2021 season and not schedule any races. Traditionally held in May, the Fair Hill Races are extremely popular with both the racing segment and the general public.
While uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and safety regulations came into play, the cancellation was also an opportunity to let the newly installed turf surface mature. Through a $20 million public-private partnership between the state of Maryland and the Fair Hill Foundation, upgrades to the historic one-mile track were completed last year. Among the upgrades were a new irrigation system, distance poles, finish pole and running rails, and widened turns. The course is part of the newly constructed equestrian Special Event Zone at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area. The venue also features a new cross-country course, updated timber course, and new competition arenas built within the turf track's infield. The inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, to be held in October, will be the first event to take place in the Special Event Zone this October.
“While it is disappointing that we will not be able to host the races this spring, we know that holding off and letting the new surface develop properly is the right decision,” said Fair Hill president and CEO Charles C. Fenwick, Jr. “We want to ensure the course will be stable and secure for many decades to come. When the course was first constructed in 1928, William du Pont, Jr. waited six years before allowing horses on the track for the same reason. With today's technology, we do not expect the maturing process to take nearly that long.”
The Turf Course at Fair Hill was modeled after the original design of England's Aintree Racecourse and hosted its first race in 1934.