Maryland Standardbred Race Fund events will return to Rosecroft April 4. In 40 rich races scheduled throughout the year, the fund will showcase the best of Maryland harness breeding operations.

The fund events will be held in two segments: the Sires Stakes for horses whose sires are registered in the state and the Race Fund for horses foaled in-state.

By offering high purses and limiting entries to horses with Maryland connections, the fund is designed to attract top breeders to Maryland and to aid those breeders here.

Although Maryland's breeding operation will probably never rival New York's, which has a $12 million stakes fund, it is hoped that Maryland can attract the middle-of-the-road stallions. Maryland's top sire, TV Yankee, fetches a lowly $2,500 stud fee, while Albatross, who stands in Pennsylvania, commands $75,000 and his son Niatross brings $40,000 in New York.

According to administrator Jim Bumpus, the harness fund is valued at $2.25 million, which is obtained from a 1 to 1 1/2 percent takeout of the daily handle. That sum will be distributed in various races for 2- and 3-year-old colts and fillies. Most of the Sires Stakes races at Rosecroft and Freestate will go for roughly $45,000 this year.