03/18/2017 11:52AM

Fantasy Owners Day includes surprise yearlong contest for cash

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As part of Fantasy Owners Day at Laurel Park on Saturday, the close to 300 registrants were matched up for the afternoon with a horse in one of the six overnight races on the card. The fantasy owners will get to spend time with the horse's connections and visit the paddock and winner's circle.

But at the morning seminar, Sal Sinatra, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, made a surprise announcement that Fantasy Owners Day would not just be a one-day affair and will instead last for all of 2017.

The Maryland Jockey Club, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, and the Maryland Horse Breeders' Association have each chipped in to put up a $50,000 purse, turning Fantasy Owners Day into a yearlong contest.

The fantasy owners will remain matched with their respective horses for the rest of the year, and the $50,000 purse will be split among all of the owners matched to the top five horses by earnings.

The purse breakdown will be $30,000 to the winning horse, $10,000 to the second horse, $5,500 to third, $3,000 to fourth, and $1,500 to fifth. Since there were 46 entries in Saturday's overnight races, each horse will have multiple owners.

"We wanted the owners to have more than a one-day connection to their horse," Sinatra said. "Because of the contest, we're hoping people come out throughout the year to root their horses on. The number of people who signed up was well beyond our expectations, and we think some of them may turn into future racehorse owners."