Thoroughbred racing was canceled at Laurel yesterday after track management determined the racing surface and parking areas unsafe following Monday's snowfall.
Laurel president Frank De Francis said the race track was cleared for training yesterday morning, but a swift drop in temperature produced frozen clots in the track and a glaze of ice on parking lots.
"If the weather had just held, there would have been racing," De Francis said. "But I was concerned for the welfare of our patrons and our jockeys. If I'm going to err, I want to err on the side of caution."
The cancellation was Laurel's fifth since Nov. 11. De Francis said he intends to seek Maryland Racing Commission approval to operate on at least two of the scheduled dark Mondays in February: the 8th, 22nd and/or 29th.
Closed today, Laurel will resume racing Thursday at 12:30 p.m. The area's other operating race tracks, Rosecroft Raceway and Charles Town race course, will operate this evening at 7:30 and 7:15 respectively. Neither was scheduled to open yesterday.
In other news, Laurel announced it will simulcast the $200,000 Donn Handicap from Gulfstream Park as its 12th race Saturday. The race is expected to include Creme Fraiche, Cryptoclearance and Personal Flag.
Laurel predominantly simulcasts races for 3-year-olds, but management believes the Donn -- a 1 1/8-mile race for older horses -- will help generate interest in the Pimlico Special this spring.
With a $500,000 purse and $100,000 bonus if the winner is a former Triple Crown nominee, the Pimlico Special figures to draw some of the country's elite older horses. The race tentatively is set for May 14 -- the Saturday between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness -- but De Francis said that date could change if the race is televised.