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Weather delays Laurel reopening again

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Racing won't return to Laurel Park until after the new year because workers rebuilding the racing surfaces have encountered weather delays and continue to address foundation problems.

Jim Gagliano, executive vice president of racing operations for the Maryland Jockey Club, said yesterday that the dirt track could open for training Dec. 20, and then, after at least two weeks of horses training on it, Laurel could reopen for racing in January. However, he said, dates won't be finalized until a final inspection of the racing surface takes place next Wednesday.

The most recent tentative date for reopening had been Dec. 26. The project was originally to have been completed in September.

Recent rains have hampered progress, and workers continue to shore up problem areas in the track's base, Gagliano said. Laurel's track sits atop a flood plain, and soggy ground has complicated the installation of a secure foundation.

Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the MJC, said racing would continue at Pimlico until Laurel reopens. Pimlico will race through Dec. 20, cease for five days for Christmas and then resume racing Dec. 26.

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