Laurel’s 25-day stand was one to lend real encouragement to the new owners, the Maryland Jockey Club. Bucking the national downward trend of business, the meeting had increased attendance, and mutuel play was up nearly 10 percent from the previous year.
The new operators, headed by Henry A. Parr III, also president of Pimlico, started off spending $250,000 for improvements in the stable area, along with sizable other sums on parking lots, beautification and changes designed to make things more pleasant for the customers. The course halfway between Washington and Baltimore always has been considered an ideal site for racing but former management never had quite developed all its possibilities.
According to Frank A. Bonsal, it is no credit to him that he was leading trainer at the Laurel meet. “It’s nothing,” he said with characteristic modesty. “You see, I have a stable of very useful horses.”
Bonsal’s public stable had 16 owners, which was noted, “though not a record for one trainer, it is quite unusual.”
Prior to training, Bonsal was a successful steeplechase rider, twice winning the Maryland Hunt Cup (aboard Bon Master). Devoting himself to flat runners since 1935, he lived at Mantua Farm in Glyndon, Md., with his wife and three children.
Three applications for harness racing in 1948, each for 20 days or nights, were tentatively approved by the Maryland Racing Commission while seven other such applications were turned down, at least temporarily.
The three groups granted dates were Laurel Harness Racing Association, Rosecroft Trotting and Pacing Association and Ocean Downs Racing Association.
The Laurel group planned a track on Washington Boulevard, on the site of the old J.K.L. Ross farm.