Fair Hill Races Not Scheduled for 2021 to Allow New Turf Course to Develop

Elkton, Maryland – The Fair Hill Races will not be held in May 2021 to allow the new turf surface to fully mature, The Fair Hill Foundation announced today. While the new track is lush and green, turf experts say it needs more time before it is ready for flat and jump racing events. Through a $20 million public-private partnership between the State of Maryland and the Fair Hill Foundation, upgrades to the historic one-mile track were completed last year including a new irrigation system, distance poles, finish pole and running rails, as well as widened turns.

Uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic and the various public health and safety regulations in place also impacted race planning and scheduling this spring. As a result, 2021 became an opportune time to let the turf course continue its progression into a world-class racing venue.

“While it is disappointing that we will not be able to host the races this spring, we know that holding off and letting the new surface develop properly is the right decision,” said Charles C. Fenwick, Jr., President and CEO. “We want to ensure the course will be stable and secure for many decades to come. When the course was first constructed in 1928, William du Pont, Jr. waited six years before allowing horses on the track for the same reason. With today’s technology, we do not expect the maturing process to take nearly that long,” he noted.

The Turf Course at Fair Hill is part of the newly constructed equestrian Special Event Zone at Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area in Cecil County. Owned by the State of Maryland, the venue also features a new Ian Stark-designed cross-country course, updated timber course, and new competition arenas built within the turf track’s infield. The inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill will be the first event to take place in the Special Event Zone this October 14-17.

“While we let the turf course develop fully, we will remain focused on delivering the best Maryland 5 Star we can to showcase our new top-class venue here at Fair Hill,” Fenwick said.

Initially designed by du Pont in the late-1920s, The Turf Course at Fair Hill was modeled after the original design of Aintree Racecourse in England. The track hosted its first race in 1934.