American Sailor
Wendell Fong won the 2021 Fire Plug. Photo Jerry Dzierwinski.

Six Laurel Park stakes scheduled for Jan. 22 will be pushed back a week to Jan. 29, the Maryland Jockey Club told horsemen via text message Wednesday afternoon.

That’s one of a series of short-term changes to the racing schedule and to purses the track and the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association have agreed upon in response to what so far has been six missed racing days in January.

Those days have been lost because the racing strip was not sufficiently winterized prior to the snow and cold that arrived early last week, track officials said.

The track is tentatively scheduled to resume racing Jan. 16, with normal works permitted Jan. 13. If all goes according to plan, the track will race Jan. 16 and 17 and then on a Thursday-through-Sunday schedule for the balance of January and February. The track has also agreed to card 10 races daily whenever possible.

The six stakes pushed back to Jan. 29 include the Fire Plug for older runners going six furlongs and the What a Summer for older fillies and mares also going six furlongs. Moving those races could be impactful; they are the local preps for the Grade 3 General George and Grade 3 Barbara Fritchie, respectively. The two graded events anchor the Feb. 19 card.

The rescheduled stakes also include a pair of Maryland-bred contests and two races for three-year-olds.

In addition to the schedule changes, the MTHA also approved a 20% purse bonus on all overnight races through Feb. 27 in races run at Laurel Park. That move should help local horsemen recoup some of what they’ve lost during a December-January period that’s seen Laurel lose almost as many days as it has run.

Entries for Sunday’s card will be drawn Thursday. However, while milder temperatures are expected into Friday, severe cold arrives Friday night, and snow is expected Sunday, with rain and snow in the forecast for Monday. All of that could put racing on hold for a few more days.