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Racing suspended at Laurel Park a day after two horses suffered fatal injuries

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The Maryland Jockey Club on Friday indefinitely suspended racing at Laurel Park, a day after two horses suffered fatal injuries in races.

Golden Pegasus, a 4-year-old colt, was euthanized on the track after he suffered an injury in the fourth race Thursday afternoon. In the next race, 6-year-old gelding Bigmancan pulled up lame and had to be taken away by van before he was also euthanized.

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The catastrophic breakdowns prompted renewed questions about a racing surface that has troubled trainers, owners and jockeys for the past several years.

“This is not sustainable,” said Alan Foreman, longtime general counsel for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, in a text Friday afternoon.

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The Jockey Club released a statement Friday evening, saying racing will be canceled at least through this weekend: “The Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) announced that after consultation with the Maryland Racing Commission, racing will be cancelled this weekend at Laurel Park while MJC works with the Maryland Racing Commission to understand and address any issues of concern raised relating to recent injuries. MJC will also be discussing plans for implementation of updated safety and veterinary protocols similar to those that have been in place in California since 2019 and have proven to significantly reduce the number of equine fatalities during racing and training.”

The decision to halt racing also came a day after track consultants from 1/ST Racing, the Jockey Club’s parent company, met with horsemen to solicit input on the state of Laurel Park’s racing surfaces. That followed a cancellation of racing on April 8 “out of an abundance of caution to do a full evaluation of the racing surfaces.”

Laurel Park was scheduled to hold racing Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with cards also scheduled for the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May before a move to Pimlico Race Course for the 12-day Preakness meet, beginning May 11.

The Jockey Club previously canceled two weekends of racing in December 2021 after a series of catastrophic breakdowns raised questions about the dirt surface at Laurel Park. Racing officials added more than 1,200 tons of coarse sand to the track’s cushion to address problems they blamed in part on the onset of winter weather.

The new troubles at Laurel Park come at a time when the future of Maryland’s two main tracks is again in question, with redevelopment plans stalled and the new Maryland Thoroughbred Racetrack Operating Authority set to work on an amended vision for the state’s racing industry under legislation recently passed by the Maryland General Assembly.


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