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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Pimlico Press Staff – Live racing returns to historic Pimlico Race Course Thursday for the opening of its 12-day Preakness Meet, highlighted by the 147th running of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) Saturday, May 21.

            The Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, the 1 3/16-mile Preakness is the centerpiece of a blockbuster program featuring 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.75 million in purses that includes the 121st 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 will be 10:30 a.m.

            The 98th 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 $1.05 million in purses. Among the supporting stakes are the historic $300,000 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 Distaff (G3) for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/8 miles.

            Post time on Black-Eyed Susan Day will be 11:30 a.m.

            For the sixth straight year, the Maryland Jockey Club is 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 is worth $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 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.

            Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen edged defending champion Mike Maker in 2021 to take the top bonus for the third time since its inception, also leading the way in 2017 and 2018. Brad Cox took the top prize in 2019.

            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 22. The meet wraps up with a special Memorial Day holiday program Monday, May 30.­

            Post time, with the exception of Preakness weekend, will be 12:40 p.m.

            Seven 2-year-olds are entered in a 4 ½-furlong maiden claiming sprint to kick off Thursday’s eight-race opening day program. Bird Mobberley’s Left Hand Thread, one of four horses in the field that debuted in a May 1 maiden special weight at Laurel Park, is the 8-5 program favorite.

            The opening day feature comes in Race 7, a 1 1/16-mile allowance for Maryland-bred/sired horses that is one of two races on the program scheduled for the turf. Among the entries are the pair of My Candy Girl (7-2) and I’m Blushing (9-2) from trainer Brittany Russell, fresh off winning her first career training title at Laurel Park’s spring meet. Quiet Imagination (10-1) ran second in the 2020 Maryland Million Distaff Starter Handicap.

            Thursday’s other turf event comes in Race 4, a 1 1/8-mile starter-optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up that attracted an overflow field of 16 including Tate for main track only and five also-eligibles. Ultimate Irony, second twice and third in three starts at the Fair Grounds this winter for trainer Mike Stidham, is favored at 2-1 for the grass.

            Pimlico will serve up another eight-race program Friday, May 13 that includes three races scheduled for the grass that drew a total of 37 entries, an average of 12.33 per race. The last of them is a 1 1/16-mile allowance for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up in Race 7 that includes Royal Number, third in the 2021 Federico Tesio entered to make his turf debut.

            A six-furlong maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies in Race 6 serves as Friday’s feature. Ladro Di Fichi, third in a pair of similar spots last summer at Monmouth Park for Claudio Gonzalez, Maryland’s leading trainer by annual wins since 2017, is entered to make her sophomore debut, while Russell will unveil Royal Whisper, a daughter of Grade 1 winner Palace Malice. Four horses have had previous starts including M’Lady Thatcher, second in an off-the-turf maiden special weight May 6 at Laurel.

            Russell ended Gonzalez’s streak of nine consecutive meet titles in Maryland to become just the fourth female to lead the state’s trainer standings following Karen Patty (1992 Pimlico spring), Mary Eppler (2016 Laurel fall) and Linda Rice (2017 Laurel winter). Russell edged Jamie Ness, 14-13, while Gonzalez was third with 10 wins at Laurel’s spring stand that ended May 8.

            Despite missing the final three days of the meet serving a suspension, 18-year-old Jeiron Barbosa led Laurel’s spring meet jockey standings with 20 wins, one more than Jevian Toledo, Maryland’s leading rider by wins in 2015, 2017 and 2021. Barbosa, who turned pro Jan. 1 in Puerto Rico and rides with a seven-pound weight allowance, is just the third apprentice in a decade to win the jockey title at Laurel, Yomar Ortiz (2013 winter) and Julio Correa (2019 summer).

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