08/25/2010 11:46AM

Timonium a walk back in time


One of the last remnants of a fading American tradition will be on display for the next two weekends when live racing returns to Timonium Race Track at the Maryland State Fair. Racing will be held Friday through Sunday, then again from Sept. 3 through Labor Day.

Timonium, which held its inaugural meet in September 1887, was once part of a thriving circult of bullring tracks in Maryland, which included stops at such places as Cumberland, Hagerstown, Havre de Grace, and Marlboro. Now, Timonium’s five-furlong oval is the only place east of the Mississippi that still holds Thoroughbred racing in conjunction with a fair.

The seven-day meet begins Friday with a nine-race card. First post time is 1 p.m. Eastern for six of the seven days. The exception is Sunday, Sept. 5, when racing begins at noon in order to clear out the crowd before Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber performs for a sold-out audience on the track’s infield.

There are no stakes scheduled, meaning the racing menu will be limited to mostly claiming events with a sprinkling of low-level allowance races.

The co-features on Friday are a pair of first-level allowances for fillies and mares. Dane Kobiskie, who won six races as the leading trainer at last year’s meet, has contenders switching from turf to dirt in both allowances.

In race 7 at four furlongs, County Girl moves back to dirt after winning her maiden sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on Laurel Park’s turf course on Aug. 8.

Two races later, in the 6 1/2-furlong finale, Kobiskie will send out Minna, whose two best efforts, a win over maiden claimers and a third facing first-level allowance runners, have come on turf. She was fifth in her lone start on dirt at Mountaineer.

Joshua Navarro, the leading rider at the 2009 meet with 16 winners, has mounts in each of the co-features. He will ride Conga Queen, a winner two starts ago at Lone Star Park, in the seventh race and Purplish, a 3-year-old who is 0 for 5 on dirt, in the ninth.

Timonium will again offer a bonus of $10,000 to be divided among the top four trainers with the most winners and starters.

Entry to the track is included with the $8 admission to the State Fair. Timonium can be reached by car off either the Timonium Road or Padonia Road exits of Interstate 83 or by light rail from either downtown Baltimore or Hunt Valley, Md.