Maryland Jockey Club and its parent company, 1/ST RACING (The Stronach Group), is hopeful horses will be able to return to Laurel Park the first week in August barring any delays in the ongoing renovation of the dirt surface, but even if they do, racing will likely continue at Pimlico Race Course in August until the Maryland State Fair at Timonium meet begins.
An update on the project and a timeline were discussed June 14 during a Zoom community meeting hosted by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. It was also announced that the Maryland Racing Commission had granted an extension of racing at Pimlico, if needed, through the end of what would have been the Laurel summer meet on Aug. 22. Timonium's first racing day is Aug. 27.
TSG Chief Operating Officer Aidan Butler said he's optimistic horses can being returning to Laurel Aug. 2, with training beginning Aug. 6. That depends on the weather, the supply chain for product, and material specifications, among other things.
“As most people are aware, things haven't gone as smoothly as possible,” Butler said. “The base is in worse shape than we anticipated but we are dedicated to doing this project right without cutting corners.”
Dennis Moore, the TSG Senior Track Superintendent who has been working on the Laurel Park project, said a French drainage system on the backstretch had been plugged up, which led to soft spots on a regular basis. The current project involves installing a new drainage system. In addition, there are issues with the grading of the surface in multiple locations.
“The [recent] rain has set us back a few days but we're moving forward,” Moore said. “We are trying to get it done by the first or second of August.”
“It's a mammoth job–way bigger than we originally anticipated,” Butler added.
The MJC Racing Office will write a four-week condition book for Pimlico through July 27, and then another four-week condition book for the remainder of the Laurel-at-Pimlico summer meet.