The rest of Laurel Race Course's 11-race program was canceled after the fifth race yesterday when jockeys voted not to continue riding because of hazardous track conditions.
The jockeys' decision followed a fifth-race incident in which Wishwell lost her footing out of the clubhouse turn and into the backstretch. Her jockey, Mario Pino, said, "It's like a pond in that part of the track. My horse got halfway in it and slipped."
Other horses also struggled with inconsistent footing.
Racing is scheduled to resume today at 12:30 p.m., but forecasts of rain could further impede attempts to make the track more uniform.
Laurel's racing surface began showing signs of trouble when the weather turned warmer midway through Friday's card. The track, which had been frozen underneath, began to thaw unevenly. By yesterday afternoon, with the temperature 64 degrees, the inside half of the stretch was dry, the backstretch sloppy and the cusp of the clubhouse turn and the seven-furlong and one-mile chutes treacherously muddy.
"The whole problem is that it's not an even track," said Kent Desormeaux, Laurel's leading jockey. "You've really got three different tracks out there; one is good, one is sloppy and one has deep mud. How is your horse supposed to handle that? That's a no-go track."
Jockey Ron Franklin said Laurel's riders intended to complete the program, then reconsidered after the racing surface steadily degenerated.
"When we started off, the track wasn't too bad," Franklin said. "But as it warmed up and the track started to thaw, water began running down to the inside of the track and just sat there. It could only get worse."
Horses had been leaving the paddock for the post parade 10 or 11 minutes before each race; but, five minutes before the sixth race, no horses were seen. Two minutes later came announcement of the cancellation.
It was the sixth time since Nov. 11 that at least a portion of Laurel's card was scrapped. Those in the crowd of 9,703 can use yesterday's program for free admission any day this meeting, which concludes March 3.
Racing secretary Larry Abbundi said yesterday's feature race, the $50,000-added Conniver Handicap, would be redrawn and run next Sunday.
Cagey Exuberance set a stakes record in racing to a 1 3/4-length victory over Spring Beauty in the $68,800 Berlo Handicap for fillies and mares in New York. Bishop's Delight was third.
The Florida-bred filly ran the six furlongs in 1:09 4/5.