Updated on 01/11/2012 5:17PM

Laurel Park cuts four stakes, boosts purses for General George, Barbara Fritchie


Laurel Park has condensed its winter stakes schedule slightly, using the savings to increase the purses of 10 of its remaining 11 stakes, including its two Grade 2 events, the Barbara Fritchie Handicap and the General George Handicap. Both stakes will be contested during the Presidents Day weekend holiday, Feb. 18 and Feb. 20.

The 2012 stakes schedule was published on Laurel’s website Wednesday, but still must be approved by the Maryland Racing Commission at its meeting Tuesday.

The Barbara Fritchie and General George were each given $50,000 boosts to $200,000 apiece. Eight other races got $25,000 increases to $100,000. Overall, the same $1.27 million will be paid out for 11 stakes, instead of being spread over 15 stakes.

Dropped from the schedule were four minor races usually held in January – the Native Dancer and Nellie Morse, both for older horses at one mile, and a pair of six-furlong sprints, the What a Summer and Fire Plug.

The stakes schedule will begin with the Dancing Count, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds, on Jan. 28.

Racing secretary Georgann Hale also said that average overnight daily purses will be increased from $185,000 to $205,000 beginning with the second condition book for the winter stand, starting Wednesday, Feb. 1.

“We will have a purse increase across the board,” added Hale. “Some are 10 percent, others 11 percent. It will make our purses competitive with Charles Town, Penn National, and Parx Racing. Horsemen will not have to go out of town to run because the purse is so much bigger. We are holding our own and this will boost morale, especially on the heels of the fact we will be running the same schedule as a year ago.”