Rosecroft Raceway will open its 37th season of harness racing Wednesday night, beginning what will be the richest year for the sport in Maryland racing history.

Rosecroft will run five nights a week, Wednesday through Sunday, until mid-April, when Tuesday will be added. Post time will be 7:30 nightly except Sunday, when it will be 6. Rosecroft's spring meet will end May 15.

As always, the highlight of the 85-night meet will be the William E. Miller Memorial Pace, May 11. The race for 3-year-old pacing colts will carry an estimated purse of $200,000. Its companion stake, the John Miller for fillies, is scheduled April 27, with a value of $125,000.

Last year, the William E. Miller had a purse of $130,000 and the filly division a purse of $60,000. The increased purses are due mostly to the higher payments horsemen must make to keep horses eligible for the stakes. Rosecroft also is contributing more to the purses.

Rosecroft and Freestate Raceway plan to offer at least 11 races this year with purses of $100,000 or more, including two divisions of the Breeder's Crown Championship. In the fall, Rosecroft will host the Breeder's race for 2-year-old pacing colts, which will have an estimated value of $720,000. In the summer, Freestate will offer the Breeder's event for aged pacers, with a purse of $350,000.

Six years ago, Maryland's richest harness race carried a purse of $75,000.