11/26/2007 12:00AM

Grade 2 sprint stakes top Laurel Park winter meet

EmailA pair of Grade 2, $300,000 sprint stakes on President's Day weekend will highlight the 15-week winter meet at Laurel Park.

The Barbara Fritchie Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares on Feb. 16 and the General George BC Handicap for males two days later, both at seven furlongs, top a package of 17 stakes events approved by the Maryland Racing Commission at its annual meeting last week.

A pair of sprints for 3-year-olds, the Horatius and the Smart Halo, have been dropped from the schedule.

"This is reality as we continue to tweak the program in order to compete with neighboring states," said Georganne Hale, Laurel's racing secretary. "We do have a stakes race every Saturday during the meet and that is something we are working hard to carry on."

The 61-day meet begins Jan. 1 and continues through April 12. As announced earlier, there will be no Sunday racing. The four-day regular live race week will run Wednesday through Saturday.