16 Stakes, Nine Graded, Worth $3.35 Million Oct. 1-3 including 96th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on Preakness Day Program
BALTIMORE, Md. – Championship racing returns to legendary Pimlico Race Course Thursday for the long-awaited opening of an historic Preakness Meet at Pimlico, highlighted by the 145th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) Saturday, Oct. 3.
Originally scheduled for May 16 and delayed amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 1 3/16-mile Preakness for 3-year-olds is being presented this year as the final jewel in a refashioned Triple Crown, and also becomes the first Triple Crown race to serve as a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
This year also marks the latest that the Preakness, which debuted in 1873, has ever been run. The previous benchmark was June 16, 1945, following the end of World War II, when Polynesian upset Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Hoop Jr. in the 70th renewal. The meet will be held without fans.
Immediately preceding the Preakness on a blockbuster all-stakes program of 12 races worth $2.6 million in purses will be the 96th edition of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies after years serving as the headliner on Preakness eve. The final race Preakness Day will be the $100,000 UAE President Cup (G1) for Arabian horses.
Both the Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan will be part of NBC’s national television coverage, which runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Post time on Preakness Day will be 11 a.m.
Preakness weekend will offer a total of 16 stakes, nine graded, worth $3.35 million in purses beginning Thursday, Oct. 1 with four stakes led by the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) for 3-year-olds sprinting six furlongs. Friday, Oct. 2 is Claiming Crown Preview Day, serving as an automatic qualifier to the 22nd Claiming Crown Dec. 5 at Gulfstream Park, and is anchored by the historic $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for 3-year-olds and up.
A field of 11 3-year-olds and up will go 1 1/16 miles over the turf course in a $30,000 starter optional claiming event to open Thursday’s eight-race program that begins at 12:40 p.m. Race 6 is a $40,000 maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies going six furlongs on the main track, marking the return of jockey Sheldon Russell.
Russell, Maryland’s leading rider in 2011 who ranked second last year, will be aboard Out of Sorts for his wife, trainer Brittany Russell. Sheldon Russell, who is also named on also-eligible Yes Sir Colonel in Race 3, has not raced since breaking his wrist in a gate mishap July 16 at Delaware Park.
Thursday’s feature comes in Race 7, a $42,000 entry-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up sprinting five furlongs on the turf that drew a field of 11 including Glen Hill Farm’s Fly the W, a gutsy maiden winner going 5 ½ furlongs Aug. 9 at Colonial Downs off more than a year between starts.
Pimlico will also serve up a 10-race program Friday highlighted by a trio of events for 2-year-olds – maiden special weights sprinting five furlongs on turf in Race 6 and six furlongs on the main track in Race 8 and an optional claiming allowance for fillies going six furlongs in Race 2 – and a second-level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the grass in Race 9.
Jockey Trevor McCarthy was the leading rider during last year’s 12-day Preakness Meet and owns 12 career titles in Maryland including Laurel Park’s truncated 2020 winter meet that ran through March 15. He has captured six of the last eight meets combined at both tracks since returning to the state full-time in fall 2018 and was its overall leading rider in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2019.
Veteran Horacio Karamanos held off Jevian Toledo, Maryland’s champion jockey of 2015 and 2017, to win Laurel Park’s summer meet which preceded Pimlico, opening May 30 following the return of live racing to the state and concluding Sept. 19.
Claudio Gonzalez has won 10 of the last 11 meets in Maryland dating back to Laurel Park’s spring 2017 stand, the exception coming last spring at Pimlico where he finished tied for second behind Jamie Ness. Maryland’s leading the past three years (2017-19), his 27 wins topped Laurel’s summer stand while Ness tied for third with 15.
$100,000 Trainer Bonus Returns for Preakness Weekend Stakes
The Maryland Jockey Club is once again offering $100,000 in bonus money to trainers who run a minimum of five horses among the 15 Thoroughbred stakes 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) and fourth (three) and by having a starter (one). The UAE President Cup is not part of the bonus.
Racing will be conducted at Pimlico Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 24-26 and Oct. 1-3 before returning to Laurel Park for the calendar year-ending fall meet that is scheduled to begin Thursday, Oct. 8.
Photo credit: Emma Patti Harris/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire