Laurel Park on Maryland Million day. Photo by Allison Janezic.

A total of 88 horses were entered in nine races, five over a newly reconstructed main track and four on its turf course, as live racing makes its return to Laurel Park Thursday, Sept. 9.

Laurel Park’s 59-day fall meet is scheduled to run through Dec. 31. First post is 12:40 p.m. The fall meet will include the 30th running of the $200,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) Sept. 18, five turf stakes on Sept. 18, and Maryland Million Day Oct. 23.

Laurel’s live program Thursday will be the first since a multi-million-dollar rebuilding of its dirt surface and an extended Preakness Meet at Pimlico Race Course ended Aug. 22.

The first turf event of the fall season is scheduled for Race 2, a 1 1/8-mile claiming event for maidens age 3, 4 and 5 to be contested over the Dahlia course layout. It attracted an overflow field of 14 including main track only entrant King Alan; Mr. J. McKay, a full brother to Miss J McKay, winner of the 2019 Anne Arundel County over the Laurel turf; and new gelding Emphasize, a $180,000 son of 2016 Preakness (G1) winner Exaggerator.

In all, 52 horses were entered for the grass on opening day, an average of 13 per race. Laurel’s expansive 142-foot wide grass course and portable rail allow for six different settings, each named for some of racing’s biggest stars – All Along (rail setting), Bowl Game (17 feet), Kelso (35 feet), Dahlia (52 feet), Exceller (70 feet) and Fort Marcy (87 feet).

Eight first-time starters are among 10 2-year-old fillies entered in Race 6, a six-furlong maiden special weight sprint. Among them are Frosty Brew, a son of Frosted purchased for $160,000 as a 2-year-old in training in April and trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey;  Prima Ballerina, a $150,000 yearling by Liam’s Map for trainer Michael Stidham; and Determined Truth, third in the five-furlong Keswick on the Colonial Downs turf Aug. 2.

The Dahlia turf course will also host an entry-level, one-mile allowance for 3-year-olds and up in Race 7, which drew 16 entries including Manicomio, a popular last-out winner going 1 1/16 miles on the Pimlico grass July 18; stakes-placed Take Profit, most recently fourth by two lengths in the 1 ½-mile Bald Eagle Derby July 24 at Pimlico; 2020 Maryland Million Turf Starter Handicap winner Beltway Bob; and American d’Oro, a 3-year-old that beat his elders in a five-furlong turf sprint Aug. 8 at Pimlico.

Race 8 is a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up going one mile on the dirt. The field of six includes Tiz Mandate, second in the one-mile Miracle Wood Feb. 20 at Laurel; Erawan, third in Laurel’s 1 1/16-mile Howard County as a 2-year-old last December; and the McGaughey-trained Romp, racing for the first time as a gelding following his third-place finish in the Sir Barton May 15 at Pimlico.

The opening day card closes with a maiden special weight sprint for 2-year-old fillies at 5 ½ furlongs over the All Along layout. Six of the 13 entered have yet to start led by Coffee Bean, a son of Uncle Mo trained by Arnaud Delacour; and Kit Keller, a Godolphin homebred daughter of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper; and Little Bit of That, by leading Maryland sire Great Notion. Determined Star, a $120,000 yearling by Honor Code, was fourth by three lengths in a 5 ½-furlong turf dash Aug. 2 at Colonial Downs.

Opening weekend at Laurel Park runs through Sunday, Sept. 12