Laurel Cancels Friday And Saturday Racing, Plans To Resume Sunday Through Wednesday - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Laurel Cancels Friday And Saturday Racing, Plans To Resume Sunday Through Wednesday

Track surface woes continue at Laurel Park, where the Friday and Saturday race cards for Jan. 14 and 15 have been cancelled as maintenance crews continue to try to winterize the racing surface. Mike Rogers, president of racing for The Stronach Group, said during a Zoom call Jan. 11 that racing is expected to resume Sunday, Jan. 16 and the track could add additional dates on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week to make up for lost time.

Rogers said Laurel has has assistance from track experts Glen Kozak (NYRA), Jamie Richardson (Churchill Downs), and David Whitman (Maryland), to mix coarse sand into the surface to better prepare the material for freezing temperatures. About 2,000 tons of surface material was taken off the track, and more than half that amount has now been added back with sand mixed in and been graded. There is still mixing work to do, and that will likely continue through Wednesday afternoon.

Horses were permitted to gallop on the track Tuesday morning and will likely gallop again Wednesday, with the goal of resuming timed works Thursday. Entries will be taken Thursday for Sunday races if all parties are satisfied with the way the surface is playing during workouts. There is another weather system scheduled to move through the area over the weekend, and Rogers cautioned that could delay racing resumption once again.

Laurel has had struggles with its dirt surface for nearly a year now, most recently in November when the track was closed for examination after a spike in fatalities. The problem identified at that time was an issue with a compromise of the track's base. The cushion has been pulled back recently, and the track experts believe the base is still in good shape.

Earlier in 2021, Laurel shut down and undertook a multi-million dollar renovation that lasted through the summer.

It remains to be seen whether the stakes card planned for the weekend after next will be delayed, as horses have missed significant training, or if that won't be possible due to potential conflicts with stakes dates in February. Officials on Tuesday's call also speculated purses could be raised to help trainers make up for the financial stress of the missed racing dates in the past weeks, although it may make more sense to add dates in the next month instead.

“Horsemen have been very patient with this process,” said trainer Ferris Allen. “A lot of people are hurting economically out here from the way this has all been handled. We really need to get this back going and we need some proactive behavior on the part of the Maryland Jockey Club.”

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