Laurel celebrates Fourth with start of new meet


Laurel Race Course begins a 37-day summer meet tomorrow, the first time the track has opened a race meet on the Fourth of July.

There are no particular festivities planned, other than a giveawa of 1,500 Sony Walkman radios and a cookout on the grandstand apron.

The 12-race card features two stakes races -- the simulcast o the Suburban Handicap from Belmont Park and the live running of the $75,000 Fort McHenry Handicap at a mile on the grass.

Double Booked appears an absolute standout in the For McHenry, but there is some question if the horse will actually run.

Trainer Linda Rice has been noncommittal, saying she is waitin until the last minute to decide if the current turf star will ship to Maryland from his headquarters at Monmouth Park.

Double Booked has set four track records, two of them a Pimlico, in his last four starts, and comes off a big upset over Izvestia in the New Hampshire Sweepstakes.

The closest ranked horses to Double Booked are Rebuff an Quick Call, who get in the race at 113 pounds, 11 pounds lighter than Double Booked.

The Independence Day weekend also features the Toddle Stakes on Friday, the Baltimore Budweiser Breeders' Cup on Saturday and the Primer Stakes and Duck Dance Handicap on Sunday.

Laurel will race five days a week with Mondays and Wednesday dark. Post time is 1 p.m. The meet extends through Friday, Aug. 23.

The signature race of the Laurel summer meet is the $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, which will be televised by ABC on Saturday, July 20.

Safely Kept and Housebuster, the nation's top sprinters in 198 and 1990, could start in the race.

Pimlico closed its 81-day meet yesterday, showing declines i both attendance and handle. The betting figures decreased 8.4 percent and the attendance was off 4.5 percent, reflecting the current malaise of the economy.

Dale Capuano defeated King Leatherbury for the training titl during the abbreviated summer portion of the meet. Edgar Prado was the leading jockey.

One unnamed bettor won the closing day Double Triple in th third and fifth races, worth $137,965.

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