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The earliest record of racing at Freestate Raceway, located midway between Baltimore and Washington DC, was on Monday 21st June 1948 when it opened as Laurel Raceway. The 5 furlong oval track was built after a meeting between racing enthusiasts from Prince Georges County and Howard County, with the express desire to provide harness racing in the State. The Freestate site was chosen, close to its more illustrious neighbour Laurel Park Racecourse, and its owner Dick Hutchinson set about developing the track. In its time it boasted the capacity to hold 15,000 people, including 8,000 being seated in two different grandstands. The track operated as Laurel Raceway from 1948 until 1975, after which it became known as Freestate Raceway. In its last days as Laurel Raceway it suffered when a fire destroyed the grandstand in March 1976, resulting in the track being sold in April 1976 to Greta and Joseph Shamy. After a legal case against Joseph Shamy the track was sold to Frank De Francis, and it was he who reopened it as Freestate Raceway. In order to boost its standing he hosted the Potomac Stakes as the principal race in 1982, which boosted crowd size significantly, and later inherited the Messenger Stakes once Roosevelt Raceway closed in 1988. The final meeting at Freestate Raceway was staged on Friday 6th October 1989.

Local Patrons Dick Hutchinson, Joseph Shamy
Principal Races Potomac Stakes, Messenger Stakes
Course today

The site of the former racecourse was sold for industrial development and is now covered by a shopping centre.

If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
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Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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