10/13/2011 12:53PM

Laurel Park marks 100 years with Selima Stakes


Laurel Park will celebrate 100 years of live racing Saturday with a giveaway and live entertainment during a 10-race card highlighted by the $75,000 Selima Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.

Laurel opened on Oct. 2, 1911 under the auspices of the Laurel Four Corners County Fair. Among the famous horses to have won races at the central Maryland track are Triple Crown winners Sir Barton, War Admiral, Whirlaway, Secretariat, and Affirmed.

The day’s feature, the Selima, is one of Laurel’s oldest stakes, dating back to 1926. It was a Grade 1 race from 1973 to 1988, and remained a graded stakes through 1999. Saturday, the Selima will be contested for the first time since 2007, albeit it as a six-furlong turf sprint instead of at its former distance of 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Trainer Dane Kobiskie, who won last week’s Laurel Futurity with Lemon Juice, will try to complete a sweep of the two fall turf stakes for 2-year-olds with a three-horse entry of Doe, Softly Lit, and Embracing Hearts.

With the rail out at 87 feet, only 10 fillies can start, relegating four horses, including Embracing Hearts, to the also-eligible list.

Kobiskie has named apprentice Sarah Rook on both Doe and Softly Lit. If she starts, Doe would be running for the third time this month after a last-place finish in the Blue Hen and a runner-up effort in the Dover against males the past two weekends.

Softly Lit looks good, based on her win by a head going 5 1/2 furlongs in the Tippett at Colonial Downs in her only try on grass.

Embacing Hearts would be dangerous if she draws into the main body of the race. She won her maiden by 10 lengths sprinting on grass at Colonial in mid-July.

The field also includes Belmont shipper Scat’s Lasssie, who won her career debut in a turf sprint by two lengths a month ago, and Take It Inside, who shortens in distance after holding the lead after the first six furlongs of the Grade 3 Miss Grillo going 1 1/16 miles two weeks ago. Take It Inside is cross-entered in Saturday’s Small Wonder, a 5 1/2-fulong dirt stakes at Delaware Park.

Laurel’s centennial celebration will include a 100th birthday key chain giveaway to the first 3,000 fans, live music, ontrack performances between races, birthday cake, and drawings for such prizes as flat screen televisions, iPads, and airline gift cards.