Edited Pimlico Release – Championship racing returns to legendary Pimlico Race Course Thursday for the opening of its 23-day Preakness Meet at Pimlico, highlighted by the 146th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) Saturday, May 15.
The Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, the 1 3/16-mile Preakness anchors 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.25 million in purses on a program that includes the 120th edition of the $250,000 Dinner Party (G2) for 3-year-olds and up on turf, Pimlico’s oldest stakes race and the eighth-oldest in the country, debuting in 1870.
Other graded-stakes on the Preakness undercard are the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) for 3-year-olds sprinting six furlongs, $150,000 Gallorette (G3) for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/16 miles on the grass, $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up, and $100,000 Arabian Derby (G1) for Arabian 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
Preakness Day post time is 10:30 a.m.
The 97th running of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies is the focal point of a Preakness eve program Friday, May 14 that offers six stakes, four graded, worth $1 million in purses. Among the supporting stakes are the historic $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 3/16 miles, $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) for 3-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs, and $150,000 Allaire du Pont (G3) for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/8 miles.
Post time on Black-Eyed Susan Day is 11:30 a.m.
The Maryland Jockey Club is once again offering bonus money totaling $100,000 to trainers who run a minimum of five horses in the 15 Thoroughbred stakes races during Preakness weekend. The trainer with the most points will receive $50,000, second $25,000, third $12,000, fourth $7,000, fifth $4,000 and sixth $2,000.
Points are accumulated for finishing first (10 points), second (seven), third (five), fourth (three) and having a starter (one) in the Runhappy Skipat, Miss Preakness, Allaire du Pont, Black-Eyed Susan, Pimlico Special, Hilltop, Jim McKay Turf Sprint, Maryland Sprint, Chick Lang, Preakness, Gallorette, James W. Murphy, Dinner Party, The Very One and Sir Barton.
Mike Maker edged 2019 winner Brad Cox to claim last year’s top trainer bonus during Preakness weekend, delayed to Oct. 1-3 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen was the top bonus winner in 2017 and 2018.
There will also be bonus money totaling $50,000 for trainers with the most points in non-stakes races during Preakness weekend. The points are accumulated in similar fashion with $25,000 going to the leader, $10,000 to second, $7,000 to third, $4,000 to fourth, $2,500 to fifth and $1,000 to sixth.
Racing will be conducted at Pimlico Thursdays through Sundays with no live racing Sunday, May 16 or Thursday, May 27. The meet wraps up with a special Memorial Day holiday program Monday, May 31.
Post time will be 12:40 p.m. with exceptions on Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan day as well as a 12:15 p.m. start Saturday, May 1, Kentucky Derby day from Churchill Downs.
This year’s Preakness meet was originally scheduled to begin May 6 but had its opening pushed up two weeks when the continuing evaluation and renovation of Laurel Park’s main track necessitated its live race dates be transferred to Pimlico.
Spring Stakes Spectacular, a collection of seven stakes worth $750,000 in purses originally scheduled for Laurel Park’s spring meet, will help comprise Pimlico’s opening Saturday program, April 24. Leading the way is the $125,000 Federico Tesio, a ‘Win and In’ race for Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-olds to the Preakness being contested at Pimlico for the first time since 2015.
Serving as the Tesio’s co-headliner on the Spring Stakes Spectacular program is the $125,000 Weber City Miss, a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for 3-year-old fillies to the Black-Eyed Susan. It is joined by a pair of $100,000 dirt sprints, the Frank Y. Whiteley for 3-year-olds and up and Primonetta for fillies and mares 3 and older. With the change in venue, the Whiteley has been shortened from seven to six furlongs, same as the Primonetta.
Also scheduled are the first three stakes of Maryland’s turf season – the $100,000 Henry S. Clark for 3-year-olds and up and $100,000 Dahlia for females 3 and older, both at a mile, and $100,000 King T. Leatherbury for 3-year-olds and up. Carded for 5 ½ furlongs at Laurel, the Leatherbury will be contested at five furlongs at Pimlico.
A field of eight 3-year-olds and up will go 1 1/16 miles in a $15,000 claiming event to kick off Thursday’s 10-race opening day program. Race 2 is a $40,000 maiden special weight for fillies and mares ages 3-5 sprinting five furlongs, also on the main track.
The opening day feature comes in Race 9, an entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs that attracted a field of 11 led by narrow 3-1 program favorite Fast Break. The gelded 5-year-old son of champion Uncle Mo made his first start for trainer Brittany Russell March 21 at Laurel, chasing the pace before tiring to be fourth, beaten three lengths, racing for the first time in more than a year. Russell’s husband, jockey Sheldon Russell, rides from Post 3.
Pimlico will serve up an 11-race program Friday, April 23 that includes a pair of allowance events. The first comes in Race 7 for Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting six furlongs. The Russells figure to be prominent again with Juror Number Four, an Into Mischief filly making her sophomore debut after running second to Street Lute in the Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship Dec. 5 at Laurel. Also entered are 2020 Wide Country winner Naughty Thoughts and Proper Attire, exiting back-to-back victories in January and February at Laurel.
Friday’s 10th race is an entry-level allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up at 1 1/16 miles with a field of eight including Moonsafe, a 15 ¼-length maiden claiming winner Feb. 27 at Laurel also being considered for Saturday’s Weber City Miss, and Judi Blue Eyes, in the money in 13 of 22 career starts.
Trevor McCarthy has claimed the past two Pimlico jockey titles, but is currently riding in New York. Sheldon Russell had six wins, one more than Jevian Toledo, when Laurel’s spring meet was canceled following the April 11 program and ultimately canceled with its dates moved to Pimlico.
Claudio Gonzalez swept all four meets in Maryland in 2020 including his first Pimlico stand. Overall he owns 16 meet titles including 10 of the last 11 at Laurel dating back to 2018, and has led all Maryland trainers in wins the past four years.