Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that the Preakness Stakes will be postponed until September due to the coronavirus pandemic. No specific date has been announced. A new date will need to be approved by the state racing commission as Pimlico has no meet in September and racing days for Laurel Park will have to be transferred to Pimlico.
Maryland Jockey Club issued a statement today that read “Our first priority in these difficult times is the health and welfare of our industry participants and public at large. We are working with state and local governments, our industry participants, media and other affiliates to determine the most appropriate time to conduct the Preakness Stakes. While we are mindful of the challenges these times present we also know that events like the Preakness Stakes can help restore our sense of place and economic well-being to our communities and state. As soon as we have further clarity on these matters we will inform all.”
Originally scheduled for May 16, the Preakness follows the Kentucky Derby in being pushed back as the COVID-19 outbreak spreads. Churchill Downs announced Tuesday morning that the Derby will now be held on September 5. It was also announced that additional prep races for points will be added to the Road to the Kentucky Derby series over the spring and summer.
New York Racing Association issued a statement Tuesday that they are in the process of making a determination about the timing of the Belmont Stakes and will announce a date shortly. This will be the first time the Spring Classics are held in the fall.
It is the first time the Derby will not be held on the first Saturday in May since 1945, when it was postponed until June at the end of World War II. While the Triple Crown has always been run in the spring, the day and modern order have only been followed since 1932. The Preakness was run before the Kentucky Derby eleven times. In 1917 & 1922 the Preakness & the Derby were run on the same day. In 1918, due to a major purse increase, 26 horses entered the Preakness & it was run in two divisions, resulting in two winners that year. No Preakness was held in 1891, 1892 and 1893 due to war.
Because of the Maryland Jockey Club’s financial issues and the ban on American gambling, the Preakness moved to Morris Park Racecourse in the Bronx, New York in 1890. From 1894 through 1908, the race was held at Gravesend Race Track on Coney Island, New York. In 1909 it returned to Pimlico and has been held there since.
Past The Wire Staff
Photo: War of Will, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, crosses the finish line first to win the 2019 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Credit: Mike Stewart/Associated Press