Maryland: Schapiro Explains Laurels New Maturity Handicap Differs from Santa Anita Event, Daily Racing Form, 1958-05-03


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— i -MM Maryland ————— By Fred Galiani • Schapiro Explains Laurels New Maturity Handicap Differs From Santa Anita Event Plan Nine Furlongs Main Strip Next Year LAUREL, Md„ May 2.— In 1952, John Schapiro, president of Laurel, caused considerable excitement in turf circles with his announcement of a race of inter-I — i national national proportions. proportions. While While his his national national proportions. proportions. While While his his spectacular, called the Washington, D. C. International, was not an innovation, the manner in which he brought the race to fruition certainly was an accomplishment to be hailed. Times previous various tracks had attempted races with international significance, but they soon proved abortive and were discarded. It remained for Laurel to accomplish plish what what was was termed termed the the im- -MM plish what what was was termed termed the the im- implausible. The fame of the International stands by itself, and abroad it is said to be the best known American race. It has become such a fascinating project for owners from foreign lands th#t invitations are avidly desired. One need only to recall El Chama, who defied all precedent when trainer Jock LaBelle paid his own transportation and expenses to compete in the affair. As all know. El Chama turned in one of the top turf stories of 1955 by promptly vindicating LaBelle and winning the race. What all this is leading up to is that Schapiro is a promoter for racing in the truest sense of the word and not one merely to rest on Laurels gained. This is aptly demonstrated by the announcement this past week of another stakes, the Laurel Maturity Handicap, to be run next spring, and which will gross in excess of 00,000. At present the only other maturity in the country is the Santa Anita version. The Laurel edition will be the sole one in the East. The race is a stakes exclusively for four-year-olds. Spring Meeting Lacked Major Stakes In his luxurious, impressive office, one which does justice to the pages of Better Homes and Garden, Schapiro discussed the prospects of the new stake. "For some time," commented the energetic impressario of "Laurel, "we have been aware that our spring stakes schedule was not a formidable one. One reason for its comparative weakness is that in the eight years we have operated the track, we were never sure of our date arrangements. But now, with a five-year schedule in effect, we know exactly when we will run and thus we can map out a stronger, and more appealing program. And, as we have been averaging a million dollars, we can afford to expand our schedule. "We decided on adopting a maturity, for four-year-olds only, as the most logical new stake. At this time of the year, there are numerous rich three-year-old stakes. We have our Chesapeake, but increasing that in value wouldnt mean too much. The handicap horses have ample opportunities, not only here in Maryland also in New York. But a race exclusively for four-year-olds is something else again. We now have a strong selling point for the major stables and, as our dates are set for the next couple of years, horsemen in ail sectors of the country can be sure of a steady stakes program. We studied the Santa Anita Maturity closely but we feel that we have improved upon it in our conditions." Expanding on this point, Schapiro went on. "Our maturity is a handicap which will preclude any arbitrary topweight. For example, this years coast maturity had Round Table a standout. Horsemen in such cases dont feel like starting against such conditions. But if a race is handicapped, a trainer whose horse gets in with 114 or something like that, might feel he has a chance against the topweights. Another thing we feel is in favor of our maturity is that we will be able to attract all the best horses in the East. Unless some stars ship to California for the maturity, they have to depend on their local colony. In the East, there is a greater concentration of top flight horses and we hope to attract all of them. -I feel that the maturity will grow into an important race and we hope the horsemen will give it its full support." Well Balanced Overall Schedule The new Maturity, to be .run at lis miles, will gross 00,000 and thus give Laurel two such events, the Washington, D. C. International being the fall spectacular. The spring stakes schedule is thus perfectly balanced, with the Chesapeake for three-year-olds, the derby for Maryland-breds, the turf cap for grass horses, the maturity for four-year-olds and the tracks oldest stake, the Laurel Handicap for horses of that division. Wisely enough there are no two-year-old stakes, which are meaningless at this time of the year anyway. Juveniles only compete up to five furlongs in the spring. The Cherry Blossom and the Chesapeake Trial have been dropped, and Schapiro candidly admits that they were of no particular importance. But, he hastened to add; some impressive overnight races, with commensurate purses, will be offered. From both a horsemens point of view, and as a selling point to the public, the 1959 spring stakes schedule should be an attractive one. The Maturity is not the only new -thing being planned for next year. Never one to maintain the status quo, Schapiro reveals that the racing strip will be increased to a mile and an eighth, with the natural, and Contlnued on Page Forty-Fire ! __ - - - MARYLAND By FRED GALIANI Continued from Page Four necessary, increase of the turf course to a mile. Work on enlarging the strip will begin this summer and it is planned to have both new courses ready for action for the 1959 fall session. Laurel has been enjoying a meeting with a gain of nearly one per cent, not perhaps too impressive looked at that way, but definitely so when it is considered that Laurel was up 14 per cent last year. In the face of declines at many meetings, Laurel is one of the few to register a gain. In a way it is good, because it comes back to horsemen and public in such .things as a Maturity and a new racing strip.

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