Laurel Park sets winter meet schedule

Laurel Park will greet the new year with a total of 17 stakes worth $1.7 million in purses, led by the $250,000 General George (G3) and $250,000 Barbara Fritchie (G3), during its 2023 winter meet that kicks off Jan. 1.

The 40-day winter meet will see live racing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through March 31, which special Monday holiday programs Jan. 16 and Feb. 20. Post time will be 12:15 p.m. before moving to 12:40 p.m. March 12.

Stakes action begins Saturday, Jan. 21 with six stakes worth $550,000 in purses topped by the $100,000 Spectacular Bid, a seven-furlong sprint that launches Maryland’s series of stakes for 3-year-olds leading up to the 148th Preakness (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Also on the Jan. 21 program will be the $100,000 Xtra Heat for 3-year-old fillies and $100,000 What a Summer for fillies and mares 4 and up, both sprinting six furlongs; $100,000 Fire Plug for 4-year-olds and up at 6 ½ furlongs; and a pair of one-mile events for Maryland-bred/sired horses – the $75,000 Jennings for 3-year-olds and up and $75,000 Geisha for fillies and mares 3 and older, each going one mile.

The 69th Barbara Fritchie for fillies and mares 4 and older and 48th General George for 4-year-olds and up, both sprinting seven furlongs, co-headline a Winter Carnival program of six stakes worth $700,000 in purses Feb. 18. They are the first graded events on Maryland’s 2023 stakes calendar.

Winter Carnival will also feature the $100,000 Miracle Wood for 3-year-olds going a mile and $100,000 Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies sprinting seven furlongs; and the $100,000 John B. Campbell for 3-year-olds and up and $100,000 Nellie Morse for fillies and mares 4 and older, each at 1 1/16 miles.

Sophomores will be in the spotlight again in the $100,000 Private Terms and $100,000 Beyond the Wire as part of a Saturday, March 18 program featuring five stakes worth $450,000 in purses. The Private Terms is contested at 1 1/16 miles while the Beyond the Wire, for fillies, is run at one mile.

Joining them on the March 18 card are the $100,000 Harrison E. Johnson Memorial for 4-year-olds and up going one mile and two $75,000 stakes for older Maryland-bred/sired horses, the six-furlong Not For Love and seven-furlong Conniver, the latter for females.

Laurel’s subsequent spring meet will feature back-to-back stakes Saturdays starting April 15 highlighted by the $125,000 Federico Tesio for 3-year-olds and $125,000 Weber City Miss for 3-year-old fillies. Once again, the 1 1/8-mile Tesio will serve as a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the Preakness, while the 1 1/16-mile Weber City Miss offers the winner an automatic berth in the 99th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on Preakness Eve May 19.

Capping the April 15 program are the $100,000 Frank Y. Whiteley for 3-year-olds and up sprinting seven furlongs and $100,000 Heavenly Cause for fillies and mares 3 and up going one mile, which returned to the Maryland stakes calendar in 2022.

The first turf stakes of 2023 are scheduled for Saturday, April 22 – the $100,000 Henry S. Clark for 3-year-olds and up and $100,000 Dahlia for fillies and mares 3 and up, each scheduled for one mile, and the $100,000 King T. Leatherbury, a 5 ½-furlong dash for 3-year-olds and up.

Also on the April 22 program are a pair of $100,000 dirt stakes, the 1 1/8-mile Native Dancer for 3-year-olds and up and six-furlong Primonetta for fillies and mares 3 and older.