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Laurel Park Racecourse

Laurel Park
Official website
Location Route 198 and Racetrack Road,
Laurel, Maryland 20724, United States
Owned by Magna Entertainment Corp.
Date opened October 2, 1911
Course type Flat
Notable Races Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes (gr.1)
General George Handicap (gr.2)
Barbara Fritchie Handicap (gr.2)
Maryland Million Classic

Laurel Park is an American thoroughbred racetrack in Laurel, Maryland which opened in 1911. The track is 1 1/8 miles in circumference. Its name was changed to "Laurel Race Course" for several decades until returning to the "Laurel Park" designation in 1994. Repeated renovations have marked the course's nearly 100 years of operation, though Maryland's horse racing industry is flagging. Slot machines are seen as a possible revenue source to keep the course in operation.[1]



Laurel Park Racecourse opened October 2, 1911 under the direction of the Laurel Four County Fair. In 1914, New York businessmen and prominent horsemen, Philip J. Dwyer and James Butler purchased the track and appointed Matt Winn as its promoter and manager. In 1947, the Maryland Jockey Club, which owned Timonium and Pimlico, purchased Laurel Park. After the Maryland General Assembly rejected the idea of replacing Pimlico with Laurel Park, the track was sold to Morris Schapiro who had his son, John D. Schapiro, manage it.

The track was originally founded by James Laurel Jr. From 1947 to 1984, Laurel Park underwent a period of great change. The track was renamed Laurel Race Course and the Washington, D.C. International was introduced at 1½ miles on the turf. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the track was renovated extensively. In addition, it was awarded summer racing dates. In 1984, the track was sold to Frank J. DeFrancis and several business partners.

Laurel Park Racecourse was updated again with introduction of a 'Sports Palace' facility, renovation of the clubhouse, and exterior improvements. In August 1989, Frank DeFrancis died and his son, Joe DeFrancis, began managing the track. In 1994 the track's name returned to "Laurel Park". Yet more improvements included those to the main entrance, Grandstand interior and backstretch barns.[2]

In 1998 Leucadia National Corporation acquired a significant interest in the Pimlico and Laurel tracks. A new backstretch housing facility followed, along with the opening of four clubhouse areas. Magna Entertainment Corp. bought majority control of the Maryland Jockey Club in 2002[3] and began another renovation of Laurel Park's track and facility in 2004 with a nearly seven-month closure of Laurel Park's backstretch and racing surfaces for widening, extension and restoration of the dirt surface.

On July 11–12, 1969 the Laurel Pop Festival was held at the racecourse.

On March 23, 2010 an agreement was reached to sell the two Maryland Jockey Club tracks (Pimlico and Laurel Park) from Magna Entertainment Corporation to its parent company MI Development. MI Development will receive the tracks from MEC in exchange for paying $25 million in cash for claims to Maryland Jockey Club creditors and $89 million to other creditors through a new reorganization plan. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware has until April 30 to approve Magna's reorganization plan.[citation needed]

Slot machines

Legislation is being debated by the Maryland General Assembly which would likely place slot machines at Laurel Park and possibly generate enough revenue to keep the racecourse, which lost $3.6 million in 2006, in operation.[1] Area residents have mixed views over the introduction of slots, with a greater number opposed to the idea.[4] On November 8, 2007 the Maryland Senate approved a voter referendum on slot machine gambling.[5]


The following stakes races are run at Laurel Park: in order of grade (then year inaugurated) and Season run

Grade 1 Stakes Races:

Grade 2 Stakes Races:

Grade 3 Stakes Races:

State-bred Showcase Stakes Races:

Listed (ungraded) Stakes Races: The following stakes races are run at Laurel Park: in order of year inaugurated with (Season run) </div>

  • Nellie Morse Stakes (1941) Winter
  • All Brandy Stakes (1970) Autumn
  • Japan Racing Association Stakes (1972)
  • Twixt Stakes (1978) Summer
  • Pearl Necklace Stakes (1981)
  • Maryland Juvenile Championship Stakes (1982) Autumn
  • Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship Stakes (1986) Autumn
  • Dancing Count Stakes (1985) Winter
  • Dahlia Stakes at Laurel Park (1985) Spring
  • Deputed Testamony Stakes (1986)
  • Humphrey S. Finney Stakes (1986)
  • Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Handicap (1986)
  • Primonetta Stakes (1988) Spring
  • Fire Plug Stakes (1993) Winter
  • Horatius Stakes (1994) Winter


  1. 1.0 1.1 Olson, Bradley (2007-11-02). "Slots bill is seen as no guarantee for Pimlico". The Baltimore Sun. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-te.md.racetracks02nov02,0,1463972.story. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  2. "History of Laurel Park". Magna Entertainment Corp. http://www.laurelpark.com/About+Us/History/HistoryLaurelPark.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  3. Morgan, Jon; and Tom Keyser (2002-07-16). "Canadian firm to buy Pimlico, Laurel tracks". Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/bal-te.sp.tracks16jul16,0,2391592.story. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  4. Stewart, Joshua (2007-11-04). "Laurel Park's neighbors not sold on slots". HometownAnnapolis (Capitol Gazette Newspapers). http://www.hometownannapolis.com/cgi-bin/read/2007/11_04-08/TOP. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  5. Green, Andrew A.; and Laura Smitherman (2007-11-09). "Senate OKs slots plan". Local Politics (The Baltimore Sun). http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-te.md.slots09nov09,0,1274286.story. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 

External links

Coordinates: Template:Coord/input/dms


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