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Laurel Park Race Track
Laurel Park Race Track was established in 1911 by the Laurel Four County Fair before being purchased in 1914 by notable horsemen James Butler and Philip J. Dwyer. Over its considerable history, Laurel Park has hosted some of the best horses in thoroughbred racing, including several Triple Crown winners. It was at laurel Park that Sandy Hawley became the first jockey to achieve 500 wins in a season.
Laurel Park Track Layout
The dirt track at Laurel Park is 1 1/8 miles long, includes a unique “second finish line” 330 feet past the first allowing for one-turn, one-mile races. The inside turf course is one mile and employs the use of six different inner rail settings to create six different named turf courses of varying lengths.
Major Races and Events
The Laurel Park track has a variety of high stakes races that have been running for decades, translating to a total live handle of $298,192,500 in 2013. Among the biggest competitions are the Barbara Fritchie Handicap, General George Handicap and the Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash Stakes.
Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes
The Frank J De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes takes place on the dirt track for thoroughbreds aged three and older at a distance of 3/4 mile. This was one of the few grade one events at this distance until 2011, when the sprint lost its grading status. Nonetheless, the purse is larger than ever, with a total of $350,000 up for grabs.
Established in 1921, the Laurel Futurity stakes has been graced with some of the finest horses in history, such as Triple Crown champions Secretariat, Affirmed, Count Fleet and Citation. Despite its famed history, this 5.5-furlong race was put on hold in 2008 before retuning in 2011. This race is for two-year old thoroughbreds and takes place on the dirt track.
General George Handicap
The General George Handicap is a grade two competition for horses three years and older. It takes place on the dirt track at a length of 7/8th of a mile. Inaugurated in 1973, this race is named after the first president of the United States and has never had a repeat winner. The race record was set in 2010 by Greenspring, who finished with a time of 1:20.95.
Barbara Fritchie Handicap
The Barbara Fritchie Handicap is a grade two race on the dirt track with a 7/8th-mile length, featuring fillies and mares three years and older. This competition began in 1952 and has been a grade two race since 1973, with a purse that has grown to $300,000. The race is named after a legendary patriot who resisted the advancing forces of Stonewall Jackson at the age of 95 years old.