The Maryland Jockey Club announced yesterday that a new incentive program for graded-stakes winners that participate in Laurel Park’s stakes schedule for the 2019 season. Laurel Park’s 48-day winter meet opened January 1 and runs through Sunday, March 31.

With the exception of the 144th Preakness Stakes (G1), any Grade 1 winner in the past 12 months will have their entry and starting fee waived if they run in a MJC stakes race.

In addition, any Grade 1 or Grade 2 winner in the past 12 months that run in either the Bald Eagle Derby or Laurel Futurity will have their entry and starting fee waived. Both of these races are run on the turf course at Laurel on September 21.

“As Maryland racing continues to grow we’re hoping this incentive will strengthen our stakes schedule and help us build some stakes to the graded level,” said Maryland Jockey Club Racing Secretary Chris Merz.

Starting this weekend with four stakes for older horses, and ending with the Jim McKay Maryland Million on October 19, the MJC will offer 65 stakes and 13 graded races this season worth $9.2 million in purses in just the first two-thirds of the 2019 calendar year.