American Sailor
Dogs up at Laurel Park. Photo by The Racing Biz.

“I want to say we’ve got good news and bad news,” the Stronach Group’s Mike Rogers told a Maryland racing industry Zoom meeting Thursday afternoon.

Fortunately for an anxious group of horsemen, the good and bad news were more or less the same, and that means horsemen should be back training at Laurel Park August 10. That date represents slight slippage from the earlier scheduled date of August 6, but nothing likely to be too consequential.

The final day of training at Timonium will be August 7, with horsemen permitted to return to their Laurel Park barns the following day.

While the initial plans had called for a brief “breaking in” period for the new track during which timed workouts would not be permitted, Rogers indicated that the company had had a change of heart and would allow timed workouts from the get-go.

“We take the position that August the 10th we’re going to be comfortable with the track, so we’ll leave it to the trainers’ discretion,” he said. “If they want to work their horses August 10, they’re free to do that.”

The new racing strip will have a uniform four-inch cushion. One change horsemen will notice when they return to the track is in the color of the racing strip. That’s because of the presence of iron oxide, Dr. Mick Peterson said.

“The color does matter, and that’s one of the tests we do,” he explained. “A small amount of iron oxide can make a big difference in the way [the track] performs, and that will tend to be redder — not surprisingly [since] it’s rust.”

TSG’s Steve Koch also told horsemen that the company has made extensive efforts to improve the turf course, particularly in its drainage.

“I can say this with confidence: the turf course continues, or is now draining, way, way better than it was a year ago right now,” Koch said. “And it will continue to make improvements.”