07/29/2011 3:13PM

Laurel revives De Francis Dash


Laurel Park, the Maryland track that has begun to receive subsidies from state casinos, has resurrected one of the track’s most historic races, the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash, for the 2011 fall meet following a one-year hiatus, the track announced on Friday.

The Dash, a six-furlong, $150,000 race for 3 year olds and up, has been restored to the schedule for Oct. 22, two weeks before the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Formerly a Grade 1 race that was one of the most prominent sprint races on the U.S. racing calendar, the Dash lost its grade after it was canceled in both 2008 and 2010.

In a release, Laurel said that it would also restore the Laurel Futurity and the Selima Stakes to the schedule. Both are for 2 year olds.

Laurel Park and its sister track, Pimlico Race Course, were transferred to a private company owned by Frank Stronach at the end of June. The tracks were previously owned by a partnership of MI Developments, a publicly traded company controlled by Stronach, and Penn National Gaming Inc.

Under Maryland law, Laurel, Pimlico, and the state’s horsemen have begun to receive subsidies from slot machines at two casinos now operating in the state. The subsidies are expected to increase dramatically later this year after the state’s largest casino opens, at a location 10 miles from Laurel Park.

Tom Chuckas, the track’s president, said that average daily purse distribution at the Laurel Park meet will be $185,000 a day. The meet is scheduled for 68 days, running from Sept. 9 to Dec. 17.