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Laurel Park Cancels Racing This Weekend In Wake Of Reported Horse Fatalities

LAUREL, Md. (WJZ) -- Racing at Laurel Park has been canceled between Dec. 3-5 so workers can examine a recently installed track surface that has caused a number equine injuries, the Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association said Thursday.

The announcement comes one day after Thoroughbred Daily News reported seven horses have died on the track since Nov. 6. The latest occurred during the 8th race on Nov. 28 -- according to the chart, 2-year-old gelding American Playboy was injured near the eighth pole and vanned off--leading to a reduction in the number of equines training on the track in recent days, the report said.

"While racing is suspended, the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Maryland Jockey Club are working with industry experts to analyze surface composition and maintenance procedures directed at the safest possible racing surface," the groups said.

A new dirt track opened at Laurel Park in August after crews spent four months replacing the cushion, base and substructure of the racing surface, the Maryland Jockey Club said in an earlier news release.

The track was closed last April and an extended racing meet was held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore to accommodate the renovations of Laurel's dirt track.

Speaking with Thoroughbred Daily News, Alan Foreman, an attorney who represents the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, said most of the "red-flag cluster of fatalities" occurred near the middle of the homestretch.

"If there is a short-term remedy, then we'll try to implement a short-term remedy. If it's a longer-term issue, we'll have to address all of those factors," Foreman told the industry news site.

The Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association said the state has seen its lowest fatality rate among racehorses until this recent spate of deaths.

"The safety, health and welfare of equine athletes is the primary responsibility of all stakeholders in Maryland and must be taken seriously," the groups said in a joint release. "The Maryland racing industry remains laser focused on this problem and collectively pledges to do whatever is necessary to ensure that Maryland's historic racing industry remains world-class."

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