MJC Now Rehabbing Both Track Cushion, Base At Laurel; June Estimate For Project Completion - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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MJC Now Rehabbing Both Track Cushion, Base At Laurel; June Estimate For Project Completion

Laurel Park in Laurel, Md. (photo courtesy of Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, taken in April 2021)

During Thursday's meeting of the Maryland Racing Commission, board members dug in to the issues with the dirt track at Laurel Park, grilling the senior vice president of racing for The Stronach Group (TSG), Steve Koch.

Racing in the state has already been moved to Pimlico on an emergency basis, but a finite timeline for the repairs to the Laurel surface has been hard to nail down, reports the Thoroughbred Daily News.

“I hesitate to put a firm timeline on this for the moment,” Koch said, adding: “I would not anticipate this running past the end of the current Pimlico meet.”

That meet is scheduled to end on May 31, with racing at Laurel booked to resume on June 4.

Initial estimates suggested that replacing the dirt surface's cushion would be the primary focus of the project, but Koch explained that the base of the track has been repaired in piecemeal locations over the past years, and now the Maryland Jockey Club is looking at completing “significant work” on that base to restore consistency.

Currently, experts are comparing three test strips of different base compositions in a location on the backstretch chute, working in concert with the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory to determine which is the best for local conditions.

A large part of the problem, Koch explained, is that the MJC has not been able to source the required materials from local quarries, and is subsequently shipping material from significant distances.

“These are very scarce, very technically specified [base] materials, and in fact they're much more scarce than the cushion materials,” Koch said. “We will continue to subscribe to the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory top-to-bottom quality control program. What we cannot do is control every aspect of winter racing and winter weather, and we cannot control the fact that sourcing stone from quarries all over the eastern half of the United States requires a significant shopping and laboratory exercise.”

Read more at the Thoroughbred Daily News.

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