|Laurel Park is situated in Laurel,
Maryland, and is an American thoroughbred horse racing track, initially
established by James Laurel Jr. It was known as Laurel Park when it
first opened its gates on 2 October 1911 under the management of the
Laurel Four County Fair.
From 1914 to 1947, it was owned by Philip J. Dwyer, a New York
entrepreneur, and James Butler ? a well-known horsemen of the time, but
was sold to the Maryland Jockey Club in 1947, who subsequently also
owned Timonium and Pimlico Racecourses. During this time, it was
proposed that Laurel Park replace Pimlico Racecourse, but when the
Maryland General Assembly rejected the initiative, the track was
purchased by Morris Schapiro, and managed by his son, John D. Schapiro.
The Shapiro team reinvented Laural Park between the period of 1947 and
1984, by changing its name to the Laurel Racecourse - as it was known
for many years to come, and executing several renovations during the
1950's and 1960's.
Once again, in 1984, the track was sold, and was purchased by Frank J.
DeFrancis and numerous business partners. A new 'Sports Palace' facility
was created and the clubhouse renewed. By 1994, the track continued its
eternal evolution, and returned to its original name of Laurel Park, as
well as altering its appearance in the form of upgrading the main
entrance, Grandstand interior and backstretch barns.
Between 1998 and 2004, four new clubhouse areas were erected and a new
backstretch housing facility. The backstretch at Laurel Park was even
closed for almost seven months in 2004, in order to widen, extend and
restore the dirt surfaces of the track.
In 2006, the track lost a total of $3.6 million, and on 8 November 2007
the Maryland Senate passed a voter referendum on slot machine gambling,
and installed slot machines at the track, in the hope of accruing
sufficient funds in order to sustain the racecourse and keep it in