Ms Locust Point

Jorge Vargas, Jr. exults as Ms Locust Point won the 2017 Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Stakes at Laurel Park. Photo by Dottie Miller.

From a Maryland Jockey Club release

In preparation for this weekend’s kickoff at Laurel Park, the Maryland Jockey Club announced today an incentive program for graded-stakes winners that participate in its stakes schedule for the 2019 season.

With the exception of the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown to be run Saturday, May 18, any Grade 1 winner in the past 12 months will have their entry and starting fee waived if they run in a MJC stakes race.

In addition, any Grade 1 or Grade 2 winner in the past 12 months that run in either the Bald Eagle Derby or Laurel Futurity will have their entry and starting fee waived. The second running of the $150,000 Bald Eagle Derby for 3-year-olds going 1 ½ miles and the historic $200,000 Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles will both be run over Laurel’s world-class turf course Saturday, Sept. 21.

“As Maryland racing continues to grow we’re hoping this incentive will strengthen our stakes schedule and help us build some stakes to the graded level,” said Maryland Jockey Club Racing Secretary Chris Merz.

Starting with four $100,000 stakes for older horses Saturday, Jan. 12 and leading up to the 34th edition of the Jim McKay Maryland Million Oct. 19, the MJC will serve up 65 stakes, 13 graded, worth $9.2 million in purses through the first two-thirds of the 2019 calendar.

The What a Summer and Nellie Morse for fillies and mares 4 and older and the Native Dancer and Fire Plug for 4-year-olds and up will be held this weekend. The What a Summer and Native Dancer are contested at about 1 1/16 miles, while the Nellie Morse and Fire Plug are run at six furlongs.

Laurel Park’s 48-day winter meet opened Jan. 1 and runs through Sunday, March 31. The annual Winter Carnival, featuring the $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3) and $250,000 General George (G3), is set for Saturday, Feb. 16.