08/20/2008 12:00AM

Timonium meet opening

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Maryland horsemen used to travel a circuit that included stops at Havre de Gras, Bel Air, Cumberland, Hagerstown, and Marlboro.

The last bullring left in the state is Timonium, which held its inaugural meet in September 1887.

Timonium's five-furlong track opens Friday for a seven-day meet that runs in conjunction with the Maryland State Fair. First post time is 1 p.m. Eastern this Friday through Sunday, and Aug. 29 through Labor Day.

The opening-day card attracted 78 horses, including one also-eligible, for nine races. Fittingly, for a track where the horses must negotiate two turns for 6 1/2-furlong races and three turns for 1 1/16-mile events, Friday's card is filled with horses who most recently raced at another bullring, Charles Town. Twenty-one runners on Friday's entry list last competed at Charles Town, including five of the 10 in the day's nominal feature, a first-level allowance for fillies and mares going a half-mile.

Charles Town-based jockey J.D. Acosta, who led last year's Timonium meet with 14 winners, has mounts in six of Friday's races, including Florida-based 5-year-old mare Number One Mom in the feature. Now trained by Stephanie Beattie, who has won with a remarkable 37 percent of more than 400 starters this season, Number One Mom most recently flashed high speed in a restricted claimer at Calder.

The meet will be highlighted by a pair of $50,000 stakes for Maryland-breds. The Alma North for fillies and mares will be contested on Saturday, Aug. 30, followed by the Taking Risk Stakes on Labor Day. Both will be run at 6 1/2 furlongs.

The $8 admission to the fair ($3 for those age 60 and older) includes track admission.

Because parking is limited, fans are encouraged to take the light rail from either downtown Baltimore or Hunt Valley, Md.