Updated on 09/15/2011 1:05PM

Laurel Park to re-open Oct. 17


Laurel Park in Maryland will reopen for live racing on Oct. 17, track officials said, after receiving approval from the Maryland Racing Commission at a Monday commission meeting. Laurel has been closed for live racing since ending its meet in May after window panes in the track's grandstand enclosure began mysteriously cracking.

Although engineers have been unable to determine precisely the cause of the problem, Laurel is currently installing a "protective area" near the window panes that will prevent any injuries to patrons, according to Joe

De Francis, the president of the Maryland Jockey Club, which owns and operates Laurel and its sister track in Maryland, Pimlico.

"The protective area will be 15 feet away from any of the danger zones," De Francis said on Tuesday. "So that way, if, God forbid, any glass should crack, and if, God forbid, any glass should fall, no one would be in harm's way."

De Francis said that no window panes have actually shattered at the track. Instead, the panes have "spiderwebbed," De Francis said, like car window shields that have been hit by pebbles or rocks.

Laurel Park's summer meet was run at Pimlico this year, and the track's fall meet is currently underway at Pimlico. The Maryland Million, the second-biggest day of racing in the state, will be run on Oct. 13 this year at Pimlico.

Also at the commission meeting, the MJC submitted an application for an account-wagering license, even though the MJC has no plans to operate its own telephone-betting system, De Francis said. Instead, the MJC plans to designate Television Games Network and Youbet.com as its "third-party operators," as De Francis termed them, in order to comply with regulations recently approved by the racing commission.