Reporting Alex DeMetrick
LAUREL, Md. (WJZ)— There will be plenty of speed on display this Saturday at Laurel Park.
Alex DeMetrick reports that after the Preakness, it’s Maryland’s most valuable day of horse racing.
Maryland’s horse racing industry hasn’t been at full gallop in decades. But twice a year it’s like the good old days: The Preakness in May and the Jim McKay Maryland Million in October.
“You’d be seeing some horses that day if you came on out,” said Harvey.
That day is this Saturday at Laurel Park for the 26th running of the race, and more than a million dollars in purses. Gift bags for the first thousand through the gate are being put together. About 25,000 race fans and their money are expected.
Only the Preakness brings in more money. From public to private betting rooms, it is an industry life saver.
Veteran trainer King Leatherbury won eight times and has a horse running Saturday.
“This is a little different than the Preakness in that this is a local race when you have local people participating,” Leatherbury said. “In this race, most of all the owners and trainers will be local.”
Lucy Krone’s husband also has a Maryland horse running.
“There’s a lot of good Maryland breeds,” Krone said. “It’s a day when we, of course, like to see the home guys do good.”
The Maryland Million isn’t the only big October event. In two weeks, Laurel Park will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
“We’ve survived World War I, World War II, Depression,” said Tom Chukas, President of the Maryland Jockey Club. “I guess you call it our tenacity or constitution.”
But there’s also the spirit of the sport.
“I still get a thrill when I walk in the race track,” Leatherbury said.
Laurel Park will host 11 races Saturday. Along with the Maryland Million, eight of those races have $100,000 purses.