Laurel Park unveils $3.4 million fall stakes program
Chublicious was up late to defeat Blu Moon Ace in the 2017 De Francis Dash. Photo by Laurie Asseo.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Laurel Park announced today a vigorous fall stakes schedule of 34 stakes worth $3.425 million and featuring several “Super Saturdays” and highlighted by the $250,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3), $200,000 Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup (G3), three finals of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series, and the inaugural running of the $150,000 Bald Eagle Derby.
Laurel Park will kick off its fall schedule with a September to remember with three huge weekends featuring 18 stakes worth $1.9 million in purses. Along with the De Francis and Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup, Laurel will host the inaugural running of the $150,000 Bald Eagle Derby, a 1 ½-mile turf event for 3-year-olds named after the two-time winner of the Washington, DC International, the precursor to the Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup.
Laurel Park will also be the site of the 33rd running of the Jim McKay Maryland Million October 22.
“We’re really looking forward to the fall schedule here at Laurel Park,” said Maryland Jockey Club President and General Manager Sal Sinatra. “We’ve bundled some of our stakes to give our fans Super Saturdays through the end of the year. We’ll have competitive races, large fields and our world-class turf course will be fresh off our late summer break. We believe, like the Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup, the Bald Eagle will be well-received by horsemen and become an integral part of our fall program.”
The $250,000 De Francis Memorial Dash highlights the Sept. 15 program of seven stakes worth $900,000. This year’s De Francis marks the final race in the older sprint division of the renewed Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series, an assortment of 25 races at tracks in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania which kicked off May 18 and 19 at legendary Pimlico Race Course. The original MATCH Series debuted in 1997 and ran for five years.
Joining the De Francis on the Sept. 15 program as MATCH Series final races in the grass sprint division are the $100,000 Laurel Dash for 3-year-olds and up and $100,000 Sensible Lady Turf Dash for females 3 and older.
Rounding out Laurel’s Sept. 15 stakes are the $150,000 All Along for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, $100,000 Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Selima for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs, and $100,000 Laurel Turf Cup for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles – all on the grass.
The Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup for 3-year-olds and up at one mile is one of five stakes on Sept. 29, joined by the $75,000 Challedon for 3-year-olds and up and $75,000 Shine Again for fillies and mares, both at seven furlongs for non-winners of a sweepstakes, along with a pair of events for Maryland-bred/sired horses 3 and up – the $75,000 All Brandy for fillies and mares and $75,000 Find, both at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
Virginia-bred/sired horses will be in the spotlight Saturday, Sept. 22 with five $75,000 turf stakes – the Jamestown for 2-year-olds, Punch Line for 3-year-olds and up and Oakley for fillies and mares, all at 5 ½ furlongs; and the Bert Allen and Brookmeade for 3-year-olds and up, the latter for females, both at 1 1/8 miles.
There will be five $100,000 stakes races on the Nov. 10 program. The $100,000 Safely Kept for 3-year-old fillies and the $100,000 City of Laurel for 3-year-olds will both be contested at seven furlongs; the $100,000 James F. Lewis for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Smart Halo for 2-year-old fillies will both be run at six furlongs, and the $100,000 Richard Small will be for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles.
Maryland-bred fillies and mares will be featured on Nov. 24 with the $100,000 Geisha, $100,000 Willa On the Move and $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship. The stakes schedule winds down Dec. 29 with six stakes totaling $550,000. The program will be highlighted by the $100,000 Dave’s Friend for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs; The Thirty Eight Go Go for fillies and mares at a mile; and a pair of $100,000 stakes for 2-year-olds in the Heft and Gin Talking.