Laurel Park is one of the most popular racetracks in North America and is located in Laurel, just outside Maryland. It is positioned between Washington DC and Baltimore and has a long and impressive history. It has been hosting regular race-days since 1911 and has fluctuated between the names of ‘Laurel Park’ and ‘Laurel Racecourse’ during its illustrious history. It is currently owned by the Stronach Group and hosts racing all year round. There are 168 race-days throughout the course of the year and is one of the most established racetracks in the region.
The track is a mile and 1/18 in circumference with a 7 ½ furlong chute to the first finish line. There is a one-mile chute to the second finish line, and the width of the dirt track is 95 feet.
The turf course is 7/8 of a mile and is composed of sandy loam.
There are 1058 stalls in total, which comes in particularly handy during high profile race-days and during the Maryland Million stakes event in October.
The track is positioned within easy access to public transport, and regularly attracts a decent-sized crowd with an annual attendance of over 670,000.
Laurel Park Track History
Laurel Park racetrack was opened in October 1911 by New York businessman Phillip J. Dwyer and James Butler purchasing the track. Racing was fairly sporadic at this early stage, and the venue was used for other purposes with US Army engineers opening a training camp in 1918 ahead of their deployment to France.
One of the most harrowing moments in the track’s history came in 1946 when a stable fire broke out. Luckily, no horses were harmed with 60 thoroughbreds being moved away from the course as a result.
The track changed hands a few times over the following decade with the Maryland Jockey Club and Morris Schapiro both owning the track for short periods.
From 1950 onwards, the track underwent a number of improvements with a new clubhouse and turf club added, whilst the grandstand was remodeled and refurbished in 1957. The Washington DC International Stakes was also added to the racing calendar around this time and helped attract a number of top horsemen to the track.
The addition of this superb contest helped attract European competitors to Maryland, and as a result, they were forced to lengthen the turf course to one mile while the main track was also extended beyond the mile.
Another fire broke out at Laurel Park in 1964, killing 34 horses.
The facilities underwent another major refurbishment in 1966, and this helped accommodate winter racing as Laurel Park extended its year-round offering. Summer racing was added to the schedule in 1982, with the track becoming one of the most prominent locations for thoroughbred racing In North America.
Robbie and John Mafuso purchased the track in 1984, and ten years later the track returned to its original Laurel Park moniker. Further improvements soon followed with the main entrance getting a much-needed makeover.
Four new clubhouse areas opened in 1999 as part of a $16million multi-year upgrade with a simulcast betting area also added to the track.
Magna Entertainment Group purchased the track in 2002 and aimed to take thoroughbred racing to the next level at Laurel Park. Both racing surfaces were widened in 2005 under their jurisdiction.
A proposal to add slot machines to the track was rebuffed in 2013, with the money being used to improve track facilities and improve their all-year-round racing program.
A GPS-based timing system was used for the first time at the track in 2018.
A number of hall-of-fame stars such as War Admiral, Sir Barton, and Affirmed all won at the track en-route to further success. Rapid Redux completed an amazing 22-race winning streak at the track in 2012.
Laurel Park Known Track Bias
Laurel Park is one of the widest courses in North America, and this helps eliminate any bias towards frontrunners. Field sizes on the turf tend to be a decent size, and there is often an even spread of winners across the card.
Compared to a number of other tracks in the region, Laurel Park does tend to slightly favor closers. Runners who begin to make their move around the turn will often find that they have plenty of space to stretch out and find enough room to manoeuvre.
Laurel Park also sees a fair share of big price runners entering the winner’s enclosure.
Winning Post Positions
On the turf course, being drawn in the middle appears to be hugely beneficial. Stalls four and five have produced the highest number of winners so far in 2019.
Although it’s a relatively small sample size, almost 38% of winners in 2019 have come from either of these two stalls. The inside stalls have proved largely barren so far, with the inside post produced very few winners.
Stalls six and seven have almost identical records so far, each producing 16.7% of winners during the latest meet.
On the main dirt track, there is no obvious bias when it comes to post positions in sprint events. Stall seven is the most profitable, although this % is slightly skewed by a smaller number of runners being drawn in this position.
Over the longer trip, the outside stalls have a distinct advantage with stalls seven and eight producing a high number of winners so far. Just 18% of winners came from the two inside posts, which is yet further evidence that the wider track at Laurel clearly helps horses who are drawn wide.
Top Trainers at Laurel Park
A number of top horsemen tend to visit the track on a regular basis throughout the season, and there are a number of top trainers who possess tremendous records at the Maryland venue.
There a number of names to keep an eye at future meets:
Stats (2019 Winter/Spring meet)
- Michael Trombetta (18% Strike Rate)
- Kelly Rubley (18% Strike Rate)
- Hamilton Smith (18% Strike Rate)
- Hugh McMahon (20% Strike Rate)
- Dale Capuano (23% Strike Rate)
- John Robb (24% Strike Rate)
- Gary Capuano (26% Strike Rate)
- Claudio Gonzales (28% Strike Rate)
- Jeremiah Englehart (29% Strike Rate)
Top Jockeys at Laurel Park
There are a number of jockeys who regularly ride winners at Laurel Park, and many of these riders know every single yard of the track. They are specialists at getting the most out of their mounts, and their presence should be factored in by handicappers.
Stats (2019 Winter/Spring meet)
- Horacio Karamanos (16% Strike Rate)
- Jorge Ruiz (16% Strike Rate)
- Katie Davis (18% Strike Rate)
- Jevian Toledo (19% Strike Rate)
- Ricardo Chiappe (19% Strike Rate)
- Victor Carrasco (21% Strike Rate)
- Jorge Vargas (23% Strike Rate)
- Trevor McCarthy (25% Strike Rate)
Laurel Park Racing Season and Key Races
Laurel Park is one of a handful of North American tracks which hosts racing all year round. There are 171 race-days throughout the course of the year, with regular meets on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Although the majority of these meets will consist of a mixture of maidens, claimers and allowance contests, there are also a number of valuable race-days which features stakes contests.
There are a number of key races taking place each year:
Frank J DeFrancis Memorial Dash Stakes
Barbara Fritchie Handicap, Baltimore Washington International Turf Cup, General George Handicap, Commonwealth Derby
All Along Stakes, Safely Kept Stakes, Commonwealth Oaks.
Showcase Stakes Races:
Maryland Million Classic, Maryland Million Ladies, Maryland Million Turf, Maryland Million Sprint Handicap, Maryland Million Distaff Handicap, Maryland Oaks, Maryland Nursery, Maryland Million Lassie, Maryland Million Turf Sprint Handicap.
Laurel Park Racetrack Address
198 Laurel Race Track Rd, Laurel, MD 20725, USA