By Brandon Weigel

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Laurel Park will close Friday and Saturday for “track maintenance work” and reopen for live racing on Sunday, Jan. 16, the Maryland Jockey Club said.

First post Sunday is at 12:10 p.m.

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Live racing was suspended in early December following a spate of horse fatalities on the track, which the Maryland Jockey Club renovated in the spring.

In early December, state regulators questioned executives with Laurel Park after eight horses suffered injuries and had to be euthanized since early October.

“In this particular circumstance, it was just unusual to get a half dozen horses in a very short period of time have injuries. That made us look at it rather quickly and try to figure out what was happening,” Mike Hopkins, Executive Director of the Maryland Racing Commission. told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren.

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At the time, the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association agreed to suspend racing to work with industry experts on upgrades to the recently renovated track.

“The Maryland racing industry remains laser focused on prioritizing the safety, health and welfare of equine athletes, and is committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure that Maryland’s historic racing industry remains world-class,” the groups said in a joint statement.

In a Jan. 11 post, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association said the dirt track was progressing after more than 2,000 tons of coarse sand were added to the cushion of the racing surface.

Tim Keefe, president of the organization and a racehorse trainer, said he asked the Maryland Jockey Club to add racing cards on Tuesday, Jan. 18, and Wednesday, Jan. 19.

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The Maryland Jockey Club canceled live racing at Laurel Park on Jan. 6-9, citing the winter weather.

Brandon Weigel