Laurel Park readies for spring meet

Highlighted by the April 16 Spring Stakes Spectacular featuring the $125,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds and $125,000 Weber City Miss for 3-year-old fillies, Laurel Park will open its spring meet with a nine-race program Friday, April 1. 

The 22-day spring meet is scheduled to run Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through May 8. There will be no live racing on Easter Sunday, April 17. 

A total of nine stakes worth $950,000 in purses will be offered over two weekends during the spring stand. For the seventh consecutive year, the 1 1/8-mile Tesio will headline the Spring Stakes Spectacular and serve as a “Win and In” qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1), held Saturday, May 21 at Pimlico Race Course. 

Also on Laurel’s Saturday, April 16 program is the Weber City Miss at about 1 1/16 miles, which offers the winner an automatic berth to the 98th running of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Friday, May 20, the traditional feature on the eve of the 147th Preakness, Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. 

Rounding out the Spring Stakes Spectacular card are the $100,000 Heavenly Cause for fillies and mares going one mile and the Frank Y. Whiteley for 3-year-olds and up sprinting seven furlongs. The Heavenly Cause returns to the Maryland stakes calendar for the first time since 2004, when it was held at Pimlico. 

Spring Stakes Spectacular nominations for all four races are due Saturday, April 2. 

Racing is set to resume on Laurel’s turf course during the spring meet, with the first three grass stakes of the season scheduled for Saturday, April 23 – the $100,000 Henry S. Clark for 3-year-olds and up and $100,000 Dahlia for fillies and mares 3 and older, both going one mile, and the $100,000 King T. Leatherbury for 3-year-olds and up, a 5 ½-furlong turf dash. 

A pair of $100,000 stakes will also be contested over the main track – the 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer for 3-year-olds and up and six-furlong Primonetta for fillies and mares 3 and older. 

Post time for the spring meet is 12:40 p.m. 

Friday’s feature comes in Race 5, a seven-furlong maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies that drew a field of 10 with five first-time starters including Wet My Beak, a daughter of 2012 Belmont (G1) winner Union Rags trained by Graham Motion; Molise, by Hall of Famer Ghostzapper, from the barn of trainer Michael Trombetta; and Beargrease, the Cal Lynch-trained daughter of Grade 1 winner Competitive Edge. 

Race 7 is an entry-level allowance for Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares 3 and up going about 1 1/16 miles. Among the entrants are Click to Confirm, third last out in the one-mile Beyond the Wire March 19 at Laurel, and the pair of Mit Mazel and Lady Fox from leading trainer Claudio Gonzalez. 

Gonzalez won four races over the final racing two days to capture Laurel’s 2022 winter meet title, 26-23, over Jerry Robb. Though he had no mounts on the March 27 closing day program, Jevian Toledo finished with a 38-29 advantage over apprentice Jean Alvelo to win the riding title.