Racing At Laurel Could Resume By Dec. 16 - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Racing At Laurel Could Resume By Dec. 16

Live racing at Laurel Park could resume by next Thursday, Dec. 16, officials relayed to the Maryland Racing Commission during a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday. Timed workouts could resume as early as Friday, Dec. 10.

Entries had been taken for Friday, Dec. 10, but those races will not be held.

During Tuesday's meeting, comments from trainers and the public showed a perception that Maryland Jockey Club and Stronach Group officials were over-emphasizing science rather than experience, specifically referencing that of on-the-ground track maintenance professionals, trainers, and exercise riders. MJC acting president Mike Rogers countered that all feedback is welcomed and taken seriously, but Stronach's chief operations officer Aidan Butler added that ultimately the final decisions lie with the track operator.

Racing and timed workouts at Laurel have been cancelled since Nov. 28 after an alarming number of fatalities – four from racing injuries and three while training – occurred between Nov. 6-28. It was the second time in 2021 that racing at Laurel was halted because of track conditions. The first occurrence was in April after a spike in musculoskeletal injuries, which led to racing being shifted to Pimlico on an emergency basis. Track ownership undertook a multi-million dollar track renovation project that wasn't completed until August, with racing resuming at Laurel in September.

Track management launched a new investigation into the racing surface on Nov. 28, with help from noted trackmen Dennis Moore from California, Glen Kozak from the New York Racing Racing Association, and former MJC track superintendent John Passero. The process involved peeling back the track cushion to examine the base.

Rogers detailed that the most likely explanation is that water seeped into a seam in the base material of the stretch before that base material was able to cure, causing a slight depression. That has been repaired, and several additional changes have been made, including adding 50 tons of coarse white sand into the cushion.

Rogers added that this is typically the time of year that the racetrack surface needs specific maintenance ahead of the winter months, but that the entirely new surface hadn't reacted to changing conditions in the way it was expected to.

Only the outermost part of the racetrack was opening for light training through Monday, Dec. 6, but the entire width of the dirt course was scheduled to open for light training on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

Whether racing resumes on the 16th will depend on a satisfactory safety review of the repairs, officials said. Another commission meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 14 to detail the outcome of that safety review and to grant approval for the resumption of racing.

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