Completed Pass
Completed Pass won the King T. Leatherbury Stakes in April on the Pimlico turf. Photo Allison Janezic.

The Maryland Jockey Club will take races off the turf for the coming weekend of racing at Pimlico. The company announced the decision in a text message to horsemen.

Four of eight Friday races were scheduled for the turf. Saturday’s nine-race program was slated to include only two grass events. Entries for Sunday are drawn on Thursday.

In the text, the company said it would “pause all turf racing” this coming weekend. That, it said, would enable it to conduct “an enhanced maintenance program” on the grass course “that will allow us to sustain turf racing through August.”

While Pimlico has typically held only a brief spring meet in recent years, this year the track will hold an extended meeting expected to last into August, most likely until the State Fair meeting at Timonium kicks off August 27.

The lengthier-than-normal Pimlico meet has been necessitated by the closure of Laurel Park. Laurel ended its spring race meet in mid-April – about three weeks earlier than originally planned – and banished horses and horsemen from the grounds following the May 15 Preakness.

The Laurel closure was prompted by several morning breakdowns and the growing realization that the dirt racing strip was unsafe for racing and training.

The Laurel closure and switch to Pimlico prompted one member of the Maryland Racing Commission, Ernie Grecco, to exclaim, “I just want to say, ‘Thank God they didn’t close Pimlico.’”

They didn’t, but for the time being, Old Hilltop will be operating at less than full capacity.