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Laurel Park will host summer racing next year for the first time since 2010

Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course will host 149 days of racing in 2015, up three dates from 2014, with a new August slate at Laurel representing the most significant change.

The calendar is highlighted by the 140th Preakness Stakes on May 16.

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The Maryland Racing Commission unanimously approved the schedule — agreed to by the Maryland Jockey Club and the state's horsemen and breeders — Tuesday afternoon during its monthly meeting at Laurel Park.

The winter meet at Laurel will start Jan. 1 and include 43 days of live racing, ending March 28. The 37-day spring meeting will pick up at Pimlico on April 2 and run through June 6, the day of the Belmont Stakes. The Pimlico schedule, two days longer than in 2014, will feature at least three days of racing every week in April and May.

In returning to summer racing for the first time since 2010, Laurel will host 11 dates between Aug. 1 and Aug. 23 before taking a break during the Timonium State Fair meet.

"There has been tremendous interest in seeing summer racing return to Maryland," said Alan Foreman, counsel for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "We've had that tremendous gap between June and September, and it makes it hard to get horses ready for the fall schedule."

Foreman praised the creativity of all involved in devising the revamped calendar, which will conclude with the 58-day fall meeting at Laurel, starting Sept. 10.

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