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  The Original International!     

Laurel Park100 Years Old in 2011

Laurel Park is part of the Stronach Group and is located between Baltimore and Washington D.C. It has a winterized, glass enclosed grandstand, and clubhouse that can seat 5,655 patrons, with parking for 3,330 cars. The stable area can accommodate 880 horses.  

Laurel Park or Laurel Race Course as it was known for a while has been around long before the introduction of pari-mutual wagering. A survivor of the dark period of racing in the early nineteen hundreds, it is struggling in todays world. Once a quiet cow pasture Laurel finds itself in an urban setting under the burden of Magna Entertainment, and no racino in sight even though they were approved in Maryland. Over the years most of racings top horses, jockeys, and trainers have competed at Laurel. Laurel rates a purse value of 32 which is impressive for a stand alone track.

Laurel ParkTrailways to the Track

Laurel Race Course was the home of the D.C. International from 1952 till 1994 when it was replaced by the Breeders Cup Turf. The first of it's kind in the United States, it brought worldwide attention to the track. The great Kelso finally won the race at seven in 1964 after finishing second the previous three years. Laurel is also the home of the Maryland Millions a day of races for Maryland breds.

In 2011 Laurel Park celebrated 100 years of going to the post. Apprentice Forest Boyce won the spring and fall riding titles to finish as the top jock in Maryland. Erick Rodriguez captured the winter meet riding title. Racing will continue in 2012 but beyond that is anyone's guess. 

In 2012 the future got a little brighter for Laurel as a deal was worked out to keep racing going for at least ten more years in Maryland. Laurel Park, ran two meets, one from January fourth to March twenty fourth, the other closed out the Maryland season from September fifth to December twenty fourth. Russell Sheldon captured the riding title for the first meet, while Abel Castellano Jr. took the honors in the fall meet.

I was fortunate or maybe unfortunate to attend a couple of cards at Laurel back in 1966, seeing as how I never hit a race there. It was the first major track in Maryland that I attended and remembered a bus ride thru the woods till we came to a clearing where a racetrack suddenly appeared. About forty years later I returned, to find Laurel Park in the middle of a residential area, guess things get fuzzy after a while.

This I do remember, I was working on my 0 - 18 streak, when I handicapped a horse named The Kraken, it was the last race on the card a mile and sixteenth on the turf. Down the backstretch The Kraken had the lead by about eight lengths at odds of 5 - 1. They were nearing the wire the wire and the horse with the yellow silks was going to win easy, when I noticed I had followed the wrong horse, the winner was Al Sirat, who wore almost identical silks as The Kraken. The story did have a happy ending as Al Sirat showed up a couple of weeks later in a stakes race. I bet him big at an OTB and made back my Laurel losses plus some. Yes, I know there were no OTB's in the sixties.