Over the years, most of racing’s top horses have competed at Laurel Park. These include Triple Crown winners Sir Barton, War Admiral, and Secretariat.
When lawmakers passed bond legislation in 2020, they included provisions to require The Stronach Group to perform a feasibility study of Laurel Park with an eye toward the possibility that the track be sold to the state. Read on to know more.
Laurel Park has evolved through the decades much like many small industrial towns across the United States. City maps, business directories, and old photos show a town with a wide range of businesses from grocers to small manufacturers, with newer additions like the Academy of Music.
In 1984 Frank J. De Francis purchased Laurel from Schapiro with partners Robert and John Manfuso. During his tenure, millions of dollars were pumped into improvements at the track, including the creation of the first Sports Palace, the forerunner to national simulcasting, which allows fans to place wagers on races being run at both Laurel and Pimlico.
The Sports Palace also housed the first race day televised from the track, the Maryland Million, which showcased local Maryland-bred horses. In 1985 Sandy Hawley became the first rider to win 500 races in a season at Laurel, with Oh My Love. Five years later Kent Desormeaux broke the record with Gilten at Laurel, with 547 victories.
Laurel Park – the 1+1/8 mile thoroughbred racetrack opened in 1911. It was originally called Laurel Race Course until Frank De Francis purchased it in the fall of 1984 and changed its name to Laurel Park. Under De Francis, off-track wagering and full card simulcasting were introduced to Maryland racing and he made patron service a top priority.
The first Laurel Park-bred Horse of the Year, Kelso, won the inaugural Washington, D.C. International in 1964, breaking a world record in the process. England’s Wilwyn subsequently won the event in 1972 and set another world record.
Laurel is home to a diverse and vibrant community. City maps and business directories from this period show that Laurel was a thriving economic and cultural center for the surrounding area that remained largely rural. A variety of businesses operated from grocers to small manufacturers. A number of churches and an Academy of Music operated in the town, while Hall Town and the Laurel Grove community provided the nucleus for a large African-American community. Browse around this site.
Food & Drink
Laurel Park has long been a home to some of thoroughbred racing’s most celebrated horses. Triple Crown winners Sir Barton, War Admiral, and Whirlaway each raced here during their Hall of Fame careers. Other greats include Omar Khayyam, Hourless, and Riva Ridge. In addition to the track, Laurel Park is home to Jump Off Rock and the peaceful Rhododendron Lake, as well as a number of restaurants and coffee shops.
The Laurel Village area is also home to the Laurel Museum and the scenic Patuxent River Park, with its 1.5 miles of paved hiker/biker paths, open play areas, historic dam ruins, scenic wetland area, and picnic pavilions. The Laurel Park clubhouse offers four premier Clubhouse areas: Tycoons, an upscale cigar and brandy bar; Sunny Jim’s, a casual simulcast theatre with individual carrel seating; Clocker’s Corner, a track-side restaurant and cafe and the Kelso Club, a premium accommodation with concierge service. In 2000, the Maryland Jockey Club and horsemen entered into a landmark revenue-sharing agreement that has transformed the sport.
Laurel Park is located halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The facility features a winterized glass-enclosed grandstand and clubhouse with a capacity of 5,655 spectators, and its stable area has the ability to accommodate 880 horses. The facility also features four premier Clubhouse areas, including Tycoons, an upscale cigar and brandy bar; Sunny Jim’s, a casual simulcast theatre with individual carrel seating; and the Kelso Club, a private hospitality suite for guests.
The Parke Laurel Apartment Homes in Laurel, Maryland offer modern amenities and spacious one-, two– and three-bedroom apartments for rent near Laurel Park Racetrack. The pet-friendly community offers convenient amenities like a swimming pool, dog park, grilling, and picnic areas. Each home is equipped with washer and dryer units, upscale plank flooring, and a private balcony or patio. The property is also located close to the Fort Meade Army installation and Department of Defense facilities. The nearby Patuxent River offers opportunities for water sports and wildlife watching. Next blog post.
Driving directions from PowerWashCompany to Laurel Park
Driving directions from Laurel Park to ClimbZone Laurel