The first day of experimentation with a 3 p.m. post time at Laurel Park's summer meeting produced figures that were nearly equivalent to last year's opening-day totals.
A total of $1,682,675 was wagered on eight live races and the simulcasts yesterday, roughly equivalent to the $2,170,394 bet on 10 events on opening day in 1994.
The totals included Maryland money bet on Maryland racing, state bets made on the simulcast tracks and out-of-state wagers made on the Laurel card.
Laurel is trying a 3 p.m. weekday post time for its 30-day meet that ends July 23. The only exceptions (at 2 p.m.) are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays when steeplechasing is conducted.
Meanwhile, in the the opening-day feature, long shot Fighting Countess stalked the pace for a half mile, then rallied through the stretch for a 2 1/2 -length victory in the $30,000-added Bold Queen Stakes.
Early on, even-money favorite Two Punch Lil and second choice Norstep battled for the lead in quick fractions of 22 4/5 for the quarter and 46 2/5 for the half.
But Norstep gave way and finished last, and Two Punch Lil followed in deep stretch to wind up fourth in a field of six running 7 1/2 furlongs.
That left three long shots on the board, with Fighting Countess ($26.80 to win), Jheniais Jewel and Ivory Code combining on a $2,891.40 triple payoff.
"She ran well for me today," jockey Omar Klinger said of the winner. "Last time out, she didn't like the sloppy track at Pimlico."
NOTES: Laurel will give away free coupon books for admissions, concessions and other discounts tomorrow, Friday and Saturday. . . . Gates will open at 11:30 a.m. for simulcasting events when the first live race is at 3 p.m. . . . Two steeplechase events each are scheduled tomorrow and Friday, moving post time ahead one hour to 2 p.m. Tomorrow's card features a $32,000 allowance test for older fillies and mares at 5 1/2 furlongs on grass.