The Maryland Jockey Club announced a fall schedule of 33 stakes worth $3.525 million in purses for Laurel Park led by the $200,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) and 36th edition of the Jim McKay Maryland Million.
The fall meet begins Thursday, Sept. 9 and run through Saturday, Dec. 31.
The six-furlong De Francis for 3-year-olds and up will help kick off the fall stakes schedule as one of four stakes worth $500,000 in purses Saturday, Sept. 18. Named for the late president and chairman of both Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course, its illustrious roster of winners includes Hall of Famer Housebuster, fellow sprint champions Cherokee Run, Smoke Glacken, Thor’s Echo and Benny the Bull, and Lite the Fuse, the race’s only two-time winner.
Also on Sept. 18 are the $100,000 Weathervane for fillies and mares 3 and older sprinting six furlongs and a pair of one-mile events for 3-year-olds and up, the $100,000 Twixt for females and $100,000 Polynesian.
Saturday, Oct. 2 will feature five stakes, all on turf, worth $600,000 in purses highlighted by the $150,000 Laurel Futurity for 2-year-olds and $150,000 Selima for 2-year-old fillies, both going 1 1/16 miles. They are joined by the $100,000 Laurel Dash sprinting six furlongs and a pair of listed stakes, the $100,000 Japan Turf Cup at 1 ½ miles and $100,000 All Along for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.
The ground-breaking Maryland Million, which debuted in 1986 and inspired copycat programs throughout the U.S. and Canada, returns Saturday, Oct. 23 with eight stakes anchored by the $150,000 Classic for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles. Juveniles are in the spotlight in the $100,000 Nursery and $100,000 Lassie for females, both at six furlongs.
Maryland Million will also serve up the $100,000 Sprint (3-year-olds and up, six furlongs), $100,000 Distaff (fillies and mares 3 and up, seven furlongs), $100,000 Turf (3-year-olds and up, 1 1/8 miles), $100,000 Ladies (fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 1/8 miles), and $75,000 Turf Sprint (3-year-olds and up, 5 ½ furlongs).
Juveniles will take center stage again Saturday, Nov. 13 in the $100,000 James F. Lewis III and $100,000 Smart Halo, the latter for fillies, both at six furlongs. The card will also include the $100,000 Thirty Eight Go Go at 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares 3 and up.
Thanksgiving weekend will feature five stakes worth $450,000 in purses spread over two days. Maryland-bred/sired horses are featured Friday, Nov. 26 with the seven-furlong, $75,000 Howard and Sondra Bender Memorial for 3-year-olds and up and six-furlong, $75,000 Politely for fillies and mares 3 and older.
Saturday, Nov. 27 offers the last stakes races in Maryland for straight 3-year-olds, the $100,000 Safely Kept for fillies and $100,000 City of Laurel, both sprinting seven furlongs. In addition, horses aged 3 and up will travel 1 1/8 miles in the $100,000 Richard W. Small.
The final month of the calendar year will feature eight stakes worth $850,000 in purses, launched by the $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Futurity for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship, each at seven furlongs, Saturday, Dec. 4.
Christmastide Day Stakes return Saturday, Dec. 26 with six stakes worth $650,000 in purses including the $100,000 Heft for 2-year-olds and $100,000 Gin Talking for 2-year-old fillies sprinting seven furlongs, $100,000 Dave’s Friend for 3-year-olds and up and $100,000 Willa On the Move for females 3 and older, each at 6 ½ furlongs.
New to the stakes calendar are the $150,000 Robert T. Manfuso for 3-year-olds and up going 1 1/16 miles and $100,000 Carousel at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares 3 and older. The Carousel, which carried Grade 3 status from 1988 through 1997, was last run in 2002 at Laurel.
Manfuso passed away March 19, 2020 at the age of 82. A former owner of both Laurel and Pimlico and longtime partner of trainer Katy Voss, Manfuso was instrumental in revitalizing Thoroughbred racing in Maryland. An owner and breeder who established Chanceland Farm with Voss in 1987, Manfuso bred 2016 Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Cathryn Sophia and was named Maryland’s Breeder of the Year with his filly earning Maryland-bred Horse of the Year honors.
The extended Preakness Meet at Pimlico runs through Sunday, Aug. 22. Live racing shifts to the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium from Aug. 26 through Labor Day, Sept. 6.