FAIR HILL — In a momentous but temporary move away from Cecil County, a Memorial Day tradition for many locals and equestrian enthusiasts has been relocated to Laurel.
Saying it will bring the event to the attention of a larger audience within the horse racing community, Ross Peddicord, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, welcomed the Fair Hill Races to its temporary venue for the Memorial Day race event at Laurel Park.
”It is a brilliant move on the part of Fair Hill Races since it will introduce Fair Hill to a whole new customer base in the Baltimore-Washington area and start to build a strong relationship with the Maryland Jockey Club, which might want to conduct some turf races at Fair Hill in the future,” Peddicord said via email Tuesday. “Then the Fair Hill Races will be back at Fair Hill in 2021.”
Christopher Moyer, Cecil County’s director of Economic Development, also agreed the move was a good idea.
”I think this one-time alternative of running it at Laurel Park is better than the event not being run at all in 2020,” Moyer said. “Attendees at this year’s event at Laurel Park are of course welcome to attend the Fair Hill Races when it returns to its rightful home in Cecil County next year.”
Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy is also looking forward to the race’s return next year.
”While I was saddened to learn that this year’s Cecil County Breeders’ Fair would be moved to Laurel Park, I understand the necessity and I am appreciative that the event will still go on,” McCarthy said. “I am looking forward to the completion of the course at Fair Hill in 2021 and many years of fairs and races at the new facility to come.”
Chris Daley, communication director for the Fair Hill Foundation, said the race would indeed return.
”This year the turf needs to mature,” Daley said, but added it would be ready for a 4-Star event in the spring and the much-anticipated 5-Star Oct. 15-18.
This is the 86th year of racing hosted by the Cecil County Breeders Fair and the Fair Hill Foundation.“We are thankful to Laurel Park and the Maryland Jockey Club for allowing us to host the Fair Hill Races this year and keep its tradition going,” said Nancy Simpers, President of the Races, and member of the Fair Hill Foundation. “Laurel Park is a historic venue in its own right with a top-class turf track. It’s a tremendous venue for our competitors, sponsors and spectators this year while we wait to return to Fair Hill in 2021.”
Daley noted that Laurel Park also has a turf track, which is where the Fair Hill races would be held May 23.
“The track at Laurel is historical in its own right,” Daley said of the more than 100-year-old park.
With construction still ongoing to turn the Fair Hill race facility into a 5-star international venue, Peddicord said the track will not be ready by late May so organizers decided on the temporary change of venue.
“Just about all the construction at Fair Hill is done and everything on schedule for the 5 Star in October,” he said.
The Turf Course at Fair Hill will be ready for competition later this year and will be used for the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill October 15-18. A 5 Star is the pinnacle of the sport of Eventing and Fair Hill will become one of seven locations hosting a competition at this level. Maryland will join Kentucky as the only states that host a 5 Star equestrian event and a Triple Crown race. The track’s upgrades also allow Fair Hill to expand racing days and provide opportunities for boutique turf meets, training and other world-class equestrian events.