08/23/2017 1:10PM

Coalition Stakes, higher purses featured at 2017 Timonium meet

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Maryland Jockey Club
The 2017 Timonium meet opens Friday and features higher purses and trainer participation incentives.

The Timonium race meet at the Maryland State Fair begins a seven-day run Friday with higher purses and, for the first time in years, a stakes race.

Racing will be offered over the five-furlong track this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and from Friday to Monday next week. The meet closes on Labor Day.

Purses will average $185,000 per day, up from $160,000 a year ago, an increase of 16 percent. The suburban Baltimore-area track will hold the $75,000 Coalition Stakes on Saturday, a 6 1/2-furlong race for 3-year-olds and upward.

The Coalition will be the first stakes at Timonium since 2008. It will offer an additional $25,000 for Maryland-breds. Fasig-Tipton will pay the winner another $10,000 if he or she was sold at a Mid-Atlantic sale.

Since early last year, the Maryland Jockey club has operated a year-round off-track betting facility at Timonium. According to Georgeanne Hale, the director of racing at Timonium, the track’s racing board lobbied for its purses to be on more of a par with Laurel Park and Pimlico.

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The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association agreed to a purse increase and to fund the Coalition. The Maryland Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association contributed to the stakes purse.

“The Timonium Racing Board is trying to build up the program, and they wanted to have a stakes to bring some attention to the meet,” Hale said. “To me, the higher purses make it more of a Maryland meet and we are getting some of our horsemen and jockeys who don’t usually race here to compete.”

To further encourage participation, a $20,000 trainers’ bonus will be again be offered. A $15,000 participation pool will reward the top five trainers at the meet based on a points system for first, second, third, and total starters. A separate $5,000 award will be given to the trainer who earns the most purse money at Timonium.

If the top-earning trainer also is among the top five points earners, he or she will only receive the earnings award and will be replaced in the participation pool by the next eligible trainer.

The Coalition could go a long way to determining the top money winner at the meet.

The nine-race opening-day card has 83 entrants, an average of 9.2 horses per race. The feature race is a first-level optional claimer for fillies and mares at four furlongs with a purse of $36,000.

The card also includes two maiden races, one for 2-year-old fillies at four furlongs, and another for 3-year-olds and up at about 6 1/2 furlongs. Both races have a purse of $35,000.