The Preakness eve card features seven stakes races, six for fillies and mares, headlined by the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Pimlico has partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® for the return of The People’s Pink Party.
“The extra 15 minutes will allow the fans to have more time to enjoy the events in-between races and added time to focus on wagering,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas.
The morning features a jockey autograph session and a handicapping seminar. The Black-Eyed Susan Stakes will be televised live on Versus.
The 136th running of the $1 million Preakness® Stakes (Grade I), the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, headlines the May 21 card. First post for the 13-race program is 10:45 a.m. with Maryland’s signature race broadcast live on NBC Sports. Preakness day will have nine added money races, including six graded events. In addition to the Preakness, the card will feature the Dixie Handicap (Grade II) and four Grade III races.
Preakness InfieldFEST will include performances by recent Grammy Award winners Bruno Mars and Train. Both bands will play extended sets on the main stage in the public Infield. In addition to the main stage headliners, the day-long multi-celebration festival experience will feature live music on the Jägermeister stage, entertainment and a variety of Maryland-branded food and beverage concessions.
GROVE TO CHALLENGE UNCLE MO IN TOMORROW’S WOOD MEMORIAL
Saturday afternoon features three major Triple Crown prep races. Uncle Mo headlines the $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. The undefeated Kentucky Derby favorite is the 1-5 morning line choice and will face nine rivals, including two Maryland-based 3-year-olds.
Toby’s Corner, from Graham Motion’s stable at the Fair Hill Training Center, is the 8-1 second choice. The son of Bellamy Road broke his maiden at Laurel Park last November and won an allowance race at Laurel in January before winning the Whirlaway Stakes a month later.
Toby’s Corner finished third in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes, one spot behind 47-1 longshot Norman Asbjornson from Chris Grove’s Bowie Training Center barn. The son of 1998 Preakness winner Real Quiet is the fourth choice in the Wood, with morning line odds of 15-1.
“We are not there with the intentions of beating Uncle Mo,” said Grove, Maryland’s leading trainer in 2010. “We are going to New York with the intention of seeing how good he has gotten. Our goal has always been the Preakness and the Belmont, not the Derby, so we do not have top peak until the third Saturday in May. We are looking to get the best out of him on May 21st.”
Norman Asbjornson finished off the board in his first three outings before breaking his maiden at Penn National in December. The colt followed that win with an allowance score at Parx Racing in January before the big effort in the Gotham where he finished 3 ¼ lengths behind Stay Thirsty.
“It feels like he is getting better,” added Grove. “I worked him five-eighths with Eddie C. prior to the Gotham. They worked together and were pretty much head-to-head. This time Norman bested him by about five lengths. What a better stage to show how much he has improved.”
Grove has won graded stakes races with Silmaril, Sweet Goodbye and Greenspring but his best Grade 1 effort was a second with Deer Run in the 2002 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash.
Julian Pimentel, who won two races on the Friday card at Pimlico, has the mount.
SANTA ANITA DERBY INCLUDES TWO STILL ALIVE FOR PREAKNESS BONUS
With his victory in Sunday afternoon’s Grade 1 Florida Derby, Dialed In became eligible for the Preakness 5.5 bonus. Saturday afternoon in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, Silver Medallion and Anthony’s Cross have a chance to stay alive as well.
Last summer MI Developments Inc. (MID), the majority owner of the Maryland Jockey Club, announced a unique bonus program centered around Pimlico Race Course’s premier 3-year old race, called the “Preakness 5.5”. The program allowed east and west coast based runners to qualify for the bonus in the Grade 1 Preakness® Stakes, the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown on the third Saturday in May by having the preliminary races at Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields.
Silver Medallion took the Grade 3 El Camino Real at Golden Gate, while Anthony’s Cross was victorious in the Grade 2 Bob Lewis Stakes. Both races were Feb. 12. A third colt, Premier Pegasus, won the San Felipe Stakes in March and was eligible but the 8-5 morning line favorite for the Santa Anita Derby is off the Triple Crown trail due to a leg injury suffered Thursday morning.
In addition to the race purses earned in the qualifying events and the Preakness, the owner of the winning horse would receive $5 million and his trainer would get $500,000.
LUIS GARCIA ABOARD ILLINOIS DERBY FAVORITE
The third Triple Crown prep race Saturday afternoon is the Grade 3 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. The 7-2 morning line favorite is Watch Me Go ridden by Maryland mainstay Luis Garcia. Garcia was aboard the Kathleen O’Connell trainee when the son of West Arce won the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March and sits 18th on the graded earnings list.
Garcia, who topped the Maryland colony in 2007 with 140 victories, has been a top ten rider in the state since 2003 but has ridden at Tampa Bay Downs since late December. The 26-year-old, who has won 725 races at Laurel and Pimlico Race Course during his career, returns to Old Hilltop next week for the balance of the spring meeting.
Watch Me Go faces 11 rivals, including Joe Vann (6-1), who won two straight at Laurel Park during the winter meeting.
Rosie Napravnik, who broke her maiden at Pimlico as a 17-year old in 2005 and won 259 races in Maryland the following year, will be aboard Pants On Fire in next month’s Kentucky Derby. The pair captured the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby last month. She will be the sixth female rider to have a mount in the Derby