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Maryland's Own GQ

Maryland Racing 2014: Seeks “Big Track” Status… Again!

Laurel Start 615 X 400
Photo: Gary Quill

Over the past decade or since the emergence of horse racing television channels, horseplayers have been marketed to believe only races from New York (Aqu/Bel/Sar), California (SA/BHP/Dmr), Kentucky (CD/Kee) and Gulfstream Park are worthy of their wagering dollars. 

Even HRN’s sister website follows this mindset. Can you blame them?! Not if horseplayers have been programmed to be interested in only a handful of tracks, then why try to buck that trend?

Well in 2014, thoroughbred racing in Maryland is primed to challenge the “big tracks” by offering bigger purses, attracting more horses which equates to larger fields. Isn’t the #1 reason a horseplayer will play certain tracks is based on large, competitive fields?

Exhibit A: How excited can you get about the G2 Santa Ynez Stakes @ Santa Anita on Saturday when only 4 fillies are entered? But I guarantee HRTV and/or TVG will talk it up as if it were the Seabiscuit-War Admiral match race, which by the way was run at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland.

That match race took place long before any of the television talking head experts FATHER were even a gleam in their grandfathers’ eye. During that time, Maryland was one of the “big tracks” in the country. Horse racing was the 3
rd largest industry in the state.

Have you ever thought, “Why in the hell is the 2nd jewel of the Triple Crown run at Pimlico?!” It’s just another reminder that Maryland was once a heavy hitter in the horse racing industry.

So what happened?! Lottery, casinos in neighboring states and politics “happened”. In the early 70’s when Maryland adopted a state lottery, horse racing was no longer the only way to gamble legally. Then in the 80’s Atlantic City became a short drive to “Vegas of the East”, followed in the 90’s by Delaware, West Virginia and Pennsylvania with slots and table games. All four of those states had thoroughbred racing and could offer purses 3 times the size of the same class level as Maryland.

So how does Maryland regain that market share? Legislators finally woke up and approved casino slots and table games a few years ago. Now that all states are on a level playing field once again, the breeding farms are flourishing, purses are among the highest in the Mid-Atlantic region and horses are now regularly shipping in from New York.

In the coming years, more MD-breds will be offered at the various Sales and with the bonus money on the table, they should be as attractive as ever.

In 2013, we saw a glimpse at the future of Maryland racing, and it was bright. Hopefully in 2014, horseplayers will find themselves studying the past performances for Laurel Park and Pimlico, other than Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness Day, with the encouragement of HRTV, TVG and our friends at

The Saturday Laurel Park card has four (4) $100,000 stakes races with the 9-race card average purse of $60k, same as Aqueduct on this day which features the Jerome. Gulfstream Park has two G3 races on their 11-race card, but the average purse barely exceeds $53k. Santa Anita can boast the biggest average purse at $81k, but that includes two G2 races, one being the aforementioned 4-horse field Santa Ynez.

My resolution for this new year is to tirelessly sing the praises of Maryland horse racing. If I got your attention, then every Saturday you can see my opinions for races at Laurel Park (and Pimlico in the spring) here...

Recapping my final post of 2013 for Laurel Park selections from Tuesday, December 31st had 5 winners from 9 races (2 Top Selections; payoffs in BOLD) having $2 WIN pay-offs of $11.00 (1st race), $6.80 (2nd), $10.00 (3rd), $5.60 (5th) and $8.20 (6th).

The BEST BET of the Day (10: 1-2-3) Decisive Edge (4th race: 3-1 M/L; 5-2 PT) stumbled leaving the starting gate, was well back early, turned for home three deep and passed tired horses, getting nosed out for SHOW money.

The LONGSHOT PICK (9: 2-1-0) Mshomecomingqueen (7th race: 10-1 M/L; 13-1 PT) was outrun early, rallied in mid-stretch but the top 3 were much better, resulting in a 4th place finish.

FYI – the BEST BET will never be a M/L favorite and the LONGSHOT PICK will simply be the runner having the highest M/L odds among my top picks for an entire card.

PLEASE NOTE: Statistics provided for the BEST BET and LONGSHOT PICK in parentheses represent the Number of Picks: Wins-Places-Shows. For example, the BEST BET (10: 1-2-3) was picked 10 times resulting in 1 winner, 2 places and 3 shows. In the past, I would reset these numbers at the start of each meet. For 2014, I reset these numbers on Jan. 1st in order to chart results on yearly basis.

For the first Saturday of 2014 the weather forecast calls for sunny skies but sub-freezing temperatures. Selections for Saturday, Jan. 4th at Laurel Park posted below are based on a FAST dirt track. Selections posted were handicapped based on making multi-race wagers such as DOUBLE’s, Pick-3’s and Pick-4’s using all three (3) listed for each race in each leg.

1st race – $40,000 Maiden Claiming for 3 y.o. fillies – 5½ furlongs
  #4 – No Wonder At All (5-2)
  #5 – Southern Equity (8-1)
  #7 – Bogelia (4-1) 

 2nd race – $100,000 Frank Whiteley, Jr. Stakes for 3 y.o. – 7 furlongs
  #6 – Germaniac (10-1) $$$ LONGSHOT PLAY $$$
  #5 – Mr. Rover (3-1)
  #1 – Reflector (20-1) 

 3rd race – $5,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 miles
  #3 – Beatnik (5-1)
  #5 – Silent Shot (4-1)
  #2 – Dual Citizen (5-2)

 4th race – $100,000 Marshua Stakes for 3 y.o.fillies  – 6 furlongs
  #1 – Jonesin For Jerry (9-2) *** BEST BET ***
  #2 – Gracer (4-5)
  #6 – Tupancy Links (15-1)
 5th race – $8,000 Claiming for 4 y.o. and up – 1 1/8 miles
  #2 - Kingofthebluegrass --- SCRATCHED ---
  #6 – Symphonic Hero (9-5)
  #8 – Termsofengagement (10-1)
  #1 – Hughes Next (2-1)
 6th race – $100,000 Nellie Morse Stakes for F&M 4 y.o. and up – 1 1/16 miles
  #3 – Welcome Guest (7-5)
  #1 – Firenze Feeling (2-1)
  #2 – Hedonemewrongsong (15-1)
 7th race – $32,000 Optional Claiming N3X for 4 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs
  #8 – The Louisiana Kid (8-1)
  #4 – Cherokee Artist (8-5)
  #1 – Smash and Grab (10-1) 
 8th race – $100,000 Fire Plug Stakes for 4 y.o. and up – 6 furlongs
  #5 – Fersmiley (6-1)
  #8 – Service for Ten (5-2)
  #2 - Strapping Groom   --- SCRATCHED ---
  #3 – Well Spelled (10-1)

 9th race – $5,000 Claiming N2L for 4 y.o. and up – 5½ furlongs
 #2 – New Technology (8-1)
 #3 – Readysetketch (10-1)
 #11 – Peeds in a Pod (9-2)

Good Luck!

Discover Maryland racing... it's no longer your father's small race track. It's more like the big track your grandfather used to know.  


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Older Comments about Maryland Racing 2014: Seeks “Big Track” Status… Again! ...

Depending on who runs things, there can be an upside with a casino. Look at Tioga Downs which a harness track in NY. Gural took a defunct harness track and Made it a top harness hosting some great racing. Hoosier Downs is doing the same thing in Indiana and as a matter of fact got the top pacer Captaintreacherous there instead of going to the Jug in Ohio. All have casinos and the racing side is doing well.
  • coyne.kaylor · I think The Captain went to Indiana because they knew he couldn't handle the smaller track. They dodged all of the big races on the smaller tracks. He was incredibly dominant elsewhere. · 1407 days ago
Cocoa. The quality of racinos depends on who is running them. Tioga Downs, Hoosier, Northfield, Scioto Downs and looks like many of the other ones in Ohio look to be well run and do a good job to support racing. Others don't, I agree. Let's see what Suffolk Downs gets.
No casino, no Suffolk, under current management yes. Now, Buckpasser, is it really worth going anywhere near Suffolk Racino?
Cocoa. I agree with IHATC. No casino, no Suffolk Downs. Just read the statement awarding racing dates, they were asked if losing the Casino vote would jeopardize the 2014 season, they said no but "made no commitment after that."
Then it appears you wont be attending NE racing because without Mohegan, Suffok is done. The Casino will preserve it hopefully until the Racing industry can turn it around and begin growing. If the Casino and Track are wed, then the purses should grow and bring better horses and races.
No doubt casinos have upside. In Massachusetts, however, especially in Eastie, this will not help. I don't want to go to a casino, I want to go to a race track. I probably will cease attending New England racing should Tuttle's wish pass.
Sorry Gural took a defunct quarter horse track and made it into a harness track.
Perhaps you've not spent a lot of time at Suffolk, but try imagining it eith a casino. doesn't look like anything worth saving. realize the same people who bet horses will be playing slots. no new customers come. there is no upside of getting a casino.
well said conye.kaylor. I can't agree enough. Sullivan, that is narrowminded if you live in New England and you dont want to lose our last track. Once racing stops it is never coming back here.
Great article... I agree, it's all about marketing. People in this country are sheep and do/believe what they're told by whatever medium they choose to listen to. Pimlico and tracks like it have got to get their names into the bettor's consciousness... Maybe Pimlico should consider a points system for the Preakness. The Derby Prep Race Schedule has turned out to be marketing genius and built up momentum for the big race. The MJC should consider doing something similar. Pick some of the races on the Derby Schedule, add the Illinois Derby (and maybe whoever else got snubbed), add the stakes at Pimlico, give entrance to the Top 6 from the Derby?
I'd rather see Suffolk die quick than go prolonged and lose prestige and that homey feeling
Thats not going to happen Sullivan. Best bet is to get Mohegan in and then try to restructure. Without Mohegan, Tuttle, Bott, Pieramini, the Beer vendors, security, the nice old woman that sells programs, and all the horses like my Peter's Creek are going to be gone. Either unemployed or to a track out of state.
Great read. I would love to see the comeback. If anyone of you like Northeast racing, here in new england the industry is fighting for its life. if you have time and you dont minding sending an email to the MA gaming commission it would help to email the gaming commission and tell them how important itis to approve the Revere license and at the same time part of a license approval should preserve the horse racing industry which keeps jobs, farms and the MA breeding program among many others
  • marylandgq · IHATC, thanks for the info and I will certianly email the MA gaming commission. I did see this past weekend on HRTV a report that there are plans to build a racino at Suffolk Downs? My sister lives in the Essex area in MA... prior to that she lived in Boston. I have been to Suffolk a few times (actually loved the fact I could take the "T"). Best of luck to the future of horse racing in MA. · 1412 days ago
don't email the gaming commission. email suffolk downs inc and ask them to kock chip tuttle out.
IHATC. Thanks for the post. I will get out an email to help. Did this for NJ racing, when Christie wanted to close the tracks.
  • illhaveanothertriplecrown · Thanks Buckpasser. This MD read was so inspiring. I still havent made it down there, even though my horse is currently at Laurel. I think this spring I will make it down. · 1412 days ago
as a marylander myself. we got screwed out of the casino bill for years when all the surrounding states were getting boosted purses from slots revenue. so i agree with the author of this article that maryland racing will start making a comeback. we were on the verge of losing the preakness which would have been shameful..
Great for the horsemen,not so hot for betting public. What's the take out? Until we get a honest chance the casinos will kick our asses. Rocky
  • marylandgq · Rocky, to answer your question "What's the take out?" Click on the this link (BTW - Laurel Park has THE LOWEST (14%) TAKE OUT for the most popular wager among serious horseplayers, the PICK-4, while AQU/BEL and GP is 25%, SA is 20.68%). Next complaint? · 1414 days ago
Picking every race, particularly without a single shred of odds and/or bias or weather, is just ignorance personified
  • marylandgq · Quite an assumption that I do not consider bias or weather. If posting my opinions as do the folks who earn their living doing the same for DRF, HRTV, TVG, etc. is "ignorance personified", then I'm happy to say, "Guilty as charged". Thanks for your dedication to HRN! · 1415 days ago
Purse restructering alone does not work. Look at the pitiful MOnmouth meetings
Good purse money is a great way to start building and upgrading the racing program.

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                Meet Gary Quill

  I am the most passionate person on the planet when it comes to thoroughbred horse racing! One sunny summer day in 1964 at Timonium Race Track is where my Dad and mentor introduced me to “The Sport of Kings”. Since that day, I have had the pleasure to visit over 40 different tracks across North America. Though an IT professional by trade, I’ve had a part-time gig with the Maryland Jockey Club since 1988.

here are thousands of rail-birds who claim to be great handicappers. Well, I don’t claim to be the best… just the most passionate and one that won’t tout “chalk”. Like a savvy stock broker, I look for value and often find it. Unlike the talking heads on horse racing television networks and the dozens of websites featuring handicapper’s opinions, I’m ACCOUNTABLE. That is, good or bad, you’ll always know how my previously posted picks performed along with a running record of my BEST BET and LONGSHOT Play of the Day selections for Maryland tracks (Laurel and Pimlico) at TheRacingBiz, see "The GQ Approach".

   In addition to focusing on the Maryland thoroughbred racing circuit, each year I follow the Derby Trail and post “GQ’s Derby Double Dozen” in early February. 

   My personal mission is to rejuvenate interest in thoroughbred horse racing. Being able to share my energy, thoughts and opinions on this sport via HRN will certainly help the cause.


"I lost $2 at Santa Anita and I've spent $3 million trying to get it back." - Mickey Rooney

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