Laurel Park Sizzles With 11 Summer Stakes Worth $1M+

May 30, 2024

Trainer Graham Motion is set to unveil the pair of Hit the Road Brat (above), by Quality Road, and Smooching, a $110,000 daughter of Mendelssohn in Race 7 at Laurel Park. (Maggie Kimmit photo)

+ Four Stakes July 28 Led by 33rd Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash
+ 33-Day Summer Meet Kicks Off with Nine-Race Program Friday

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

LAUREL, Md. – Eleven stakes, led by the esteemed Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash for sprinters 3 and up, worth $1.05 million in purses highlight the summer meet at Laurel Park which opens with a nine-race program Friday.

The 33-day stand will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sunday, Aug. 18, with no Friday racing scheduled Aug. 2, 9 or 16. Post time will be 12:25 p.m.

Laurel’s summer meet comes on the heels of a successful Preakness Meet at historic Pimlico Race Course, where Seize the Grey made 88-year-old Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas the oldest trainer to win a Triple Crown race in the 149thPreakness Stakes (G1).

Of the nine races on tap Friday two each are scheduled for the Fort Marcy and Kelso turf course layouts, all of which drew overflow fields. A total of 48 horses were entered for the grass, an average of 12 per race.

Friday’s meet opener is a claiming event for fillies and mares 3 and up which have never won two races scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Fort Marcy turf course. Molly of Stratford stretches out and gets a surface switch from dirt to grass in her debut for trainer Kieron Magee, who is 26 percent running horses for the first time. Catch the Kitten is back on turf for the first time since last fall, having run second or third in five of her last six starts.

Race 6 is a six-furlong allowance for Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares 3 and up featuring Touisset, an open Laurel allowance winner at the distance March 1, and Mike Gorham-trained stablemate Honor the Truth, whose three career wins have come at Laurel; multiple stakes-placed Gormley’s Gabriela, making just her second start since last February; Society Ball, never worse than third in four starts, two of them wins; the consistent Golden Charm, third or better in 13 of 15 starts including 10 seconds; and 2021 Maryland Million Lassie winner Sparkle Sprinkle.

Smooching in a gallop at Herringswell Farm, Fair Hill, Md. (Maggie Kimmit photo)
Smooching in a gallop at Herringswell Farm, Fair Hill, Md. (Maggie Kimmit photo)

Maiden fillies and mares ages 3, 4, and 5 are scheduled to go a mile over the Kelso turf course in Race 7, where 13 were entered including Italian War Cry for main track only. Brittany Russell, coming off her third consecutive Preakness Meet training title, will send out the pair of Akayla, winless in six tries for previous trainer Chad Brown, and Virginia homebred Biscuit, sixth in her May 4 unveiling over a muddy Laurel main track. Trainer Graham Motion is set to unveil the pair of Hit the Road Brat, by Quality Road, and Smooching, a $110,000 daughter of Mendelssohn.

Friday’s co-feature comes in Race 8, a six-furlong allowance for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up led by Russell-trained Mine Run, a nine-length winner going seven furlongs March 17 at Laurel in his most recent start; Band Camp, a winner of three of his last four starts including last out April 26 at Laurel; and Hittheroadjak, who adds Lasix in his first start since losing for the first time when fifth in the seven-furlong Maryland Juvenile Dec. 3.

Laurel Park start. (Mayland Jockey Club photo)

The 20-cent Rainbow 6, which saw more than $1.9 million bet on top of a $384,473.83 carryover heading into Monday’s Memorial Day holiday program and returned a $2,974.72 mandatory payout, spans Races 4-9. The $1 Jackpot Super High Five, which occurs in Race 6 every live race day, had a life-changing payout of $303,996.10 May 24.

Launching the summer stakes program is the $100,000 Stormy Blues for 3-year-old fillies sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the grass Sunday, June 16, highlighting a Father’s Day program featuring Bourbon and BBQ and a vintage car show (weather permitting). For more information visit:

Stakes action continues Saturday, June 29 with the $75,000 Star de Naskra for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds sprinting seven furlongs. Sunday, July 14 will have three turf stakes – the listed $100,000 Prince George’s County for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles and a pair of six-furlong sprints for Maryland-bred/sired horses, the $75,000 Jameela for fillies and mares and $75,000 Ben’s Cat.

Sunday, July 21 will feature two stakes, the $100,000 Big Dreyfus for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/8 miles on the grass and $75,000 Miss Disco for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-old fillies sprinting seven furlongs.

The 33rd running of the listed $150,000 De Francis sprinting six furlongs headlines a program featuring four stakes worth $450,000 in purses Sunday, July 28. First run in 1990 and named for the late president and chairman of both Laurel and Pimlico, the De Francis’ illustrious roster of winners includes Housebuster – who beat fellow future Hall of Famer Safely Kept in 1991 – and sprint champion counterparts Cherokee Run, Smoke Glacken, Thor’s Echo and Benny the Bull.

Supporting the De Francis to close the summer stakes schedule are the $100,000 Deputed Testamony for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/8 miles, $100,000 Alma North for fillies and mares 3 and older at 6 ½ furlongs and $100,000 Concern for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.

The entire summer meet stakes/nomination schedule can be viewed at:

@jonathanstettin Great article!

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