07/16/2013 2:35PM

Laurel Park: De Francis Dash Day moved to September


Laurel Park has repositioned its Fall Turf Festival from late October to opening weekend and clustered all its stakes on six Saturdays from mid-September through late December.

The Maryland Jockey Club released a schedule of 29 stakes worth a collective $3.25 million for the fall meet on Tuesday after reaching agreement with both the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Horse Breeders Association. The schedule was approved by the Maryland Racing Commission.

The fall meet will open Sept. 19 – two weeks later than last year – and consist of 59 days, 10 fewer than in 2012 with one fewer stakes than a year ago. Daily overnight purses will remain at the same $240,000 level as last year.

The first major stakes day will be on Sept. 21 with six turf stakes and the $350,000 Frank De Francis Memorial Dash at six furlongs on the main track. The Fall Turf Festival was run on Oct. 27 in 2012.

There will be no more stakes racing until the Jim McKay Maryland Million Day on Oct. 19, featuring seven stakes and a pair of starter handicaps for the offspring of Maryland-based stallions.

Two of the stakes that were part of the Maryland Million, the Turf Sprint and the Oaks, were eliminated. The Turf and the Ladies, both 1 1/8-mile races on grass, each got a $25,000 purse boost to $125,000.

There will be four $100,000 stakes apiece on Nov. 9, Nov. 16, and Dec. 7, followed by a stakes tripleheader on Dec. 28.