07/12/2005 11:00PM

Turf Cup returns on new grass course

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Laurel Park plans to showcase its new turf course during its 78-day fall meet that begins Sept. 7. Overall, there will be 39 stakes worth nearly $3.8 million during the meet.

According to Lou Raffetto, the Maryland Jockey Club's chief operating officer, Laurel expects to schedule four turf races a day through November, taking advantage of the widened turf course that permits the rails to have six different settings.

"We are trying to get people to focus on Maryland racing," Raffetto said. "To showcase our new grass surface, we will institute an all-turf pick three during the first four weeks of the meet."

The wager will be offered on races 6 through 8 with a reduced takeout of 14 percent.

The Laurel Turf Cup, first run in 1952 and a Grade 3 race as recently as 2000, rejoins the stakes schedule after a four-year absence as part of the Fall Festival of Racing on Nov. 19. That card is headlined by the Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash and includes the Laurel Futurity and Selima - both shifted to the turf - and a new turf race, the April Run, for fillies and mares.

Raffetto said that moving the Futurity, formerly a Grade 3, and the Selima to the turf should dramatically increase the number of entries.

"We know we'll lose the grading on the Futurity, but instead of struggling to get a six- or seven-horse field, we should be looking at 10-, 12-, 14-horse fields in all of these races," Raffetto said.

The meet's other big day is the 20th annual Maryland Million, scheduled for Oct. 8. Six of the Million races, including the Classic now worth $250,000, received purse increases of $50,000 apiece.

2005 stakes schedule

DATEEVENTCONDITIONSDISTANCEPURSE
Thurs.,Sept. 7Twixt3YO F*1 mile$75,000
Sat.,Sept. 10Charles Hadry3YO & Up1 mile75,000
Sat.,Sept. 17John Schapiro B.C.3YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Sat.,Sept. 24Martha Washington B.C.3YO F1 1/16 miles (T)150,000
Sat.,Oct.1Sonny Hine3YO6 furlongs60,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million Sprint Starter HCP.3YO & Up6 furlongs30,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million Distaff HCP.F&M, 3YO & Up1 mile50,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million HCP.3YO & Up1 1/8 miles 50,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million Lassie2YO F7 furlongs100,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million Nursery2YO 7 furlongs100,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million Turf Sprint3YO & Up5 furlongs (T)100,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million Oaks3YO F1 1/8 miles150,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million LadiesF&M, 3YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million Distaff F&M, 3YO & Up7 furlongs150,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million Turf3YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million Sprint3YO & Up6 furlongs150,000
Sat.,Oct. 8Md. Million Classic3YO & Up1 3/16 miles250,000
Sat.,Oct. 15Safely Kept Breeders' Cup (G3)3YO F6 furlongs150,000
Sat.,Oct. 22Japan Racing Association3 YO1 1/16 miles (T)60,000
Sat.,Oct. 29Dave's friend3YO & Up5 1/2 furlongs75,000
Sat.,Oct. 29find HCP.3YO & Up*1 1/8 miles (T)50,000
Sat.,Oct. 29All BrandyF&M, 3YO & Up*1 1/8 miles (T)50,000
Sat.,Nov. 5Kattegat's PrideF&M, 3YO & Up5 furlongs (T)60,000
Sat.,Nov. 12Northern Dancer3YO*1 1/8 miles 75,000
Sat.,Nov. 19De francis Dash (G1)3YO & Up6 furlongs300,000
Sat.,Nov. 19Anne Arundel3YO F1 mile100,000
Sat.,Nov. 19Laurel futurity2YO1 1/16 miles (T)100,000
Sat.,Nov. 19Selima2YO F1 1/16 miles (T)100,000
Sat.,Nov. 19Laurel Turf Cup3YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)75,000
Sat.,Nov. 19April RunF&M, 3YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)75,000
Sat.,Nov. 19StefanitaF&M, 3YO & Up7 furlongs75,000
Sat.,Nov. 19Md. Million Starter HCP.3YO & Up1 mile50,000
Sat.,Nov. 26Steward Mitchell2YO7 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Nov. 26Toddler2YO F7 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Dec. 3Jennings 3YO & Up*1 1/8 miles75,000
Sat.,Dec. 10Geisha F&M, 3YO & Up*1 1/8 miles75,000
Sat.,Dec. 17Squan SongF&M, 3YO & Up*7 furlongs50,000
Mon.,Dec. 26Maryland Juvenile filly2YO F*1 mile75,000
Sat.,Dec. 31Maryland Juvenile 2YO*1 mile75,000

*Maryland-bred