Pimlico set for Thursday opening

by | May 11, 2016 | Breaking, Maryland, MD Racing, Racing

From a Maryland Jockey Club release

Championship racing returns to historic Pimlico Race Course Thursday for the opening of its 28-day Preakness Meet at Pimlico, highlighted by the 141st renewal of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1) May 21.

The Middle Jewel of theTriple Crown, the 1 3/16-mile Preakness will anchor an eight-stakes card that includes the $250,000 Longines Dixie (G2), $150,000 Gallorette Stakes (G3) and Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3). Post time on Preakness Day is 10:30 a.m. for the 14-race program.

The 92nd running of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) for 3-year-old fillies is the focal point of a seven-stakes program on May 20, along with the $300,000 Sagamore Racing Pimlico Special (G3), $150,000 Allaire DuPont Distaff Stakes (G3) and $150,000 Adena Springs Miss Preakness (G3). The day also marks the return of the Ultimate Girls Day Out, an entire day dedicated to the spirit and strength of women.

Also on Pimlico’s stakes schedule is the $100,000 Stormy Blues for 3-year-old fillies going five furlongs on the turf June 4. In all, 16 stakes races worth $3.7 million will be offered during Maryland racing’s marquee meet, which concludes on Sunday, June 26.

Racing will be conducted Thursday through Sunday as well as a special Monday program on Memorial Day, May 30. There will be no live racing on Sunday, May 22.

“We’re not only excited about the Preakness Meet at Pimlico and the incredible racing, entertainment and events surrounding the meet, but we’re excited about the direction of Maryland racing,” said Sal Sinatra, President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club. “Maryland racing continues its rejuvenation due to the partnerships we’ve created with horsemen throughout North America, our terrific fans, the commission, legislators and our growing off-track betting network. There’s such great optimism surrounding the upcoming meet as well as Maryland racing.”

Thursday’s opening card features nine races including a field of eight 3-year-olds in the featured $42,000 optional claiming allowance going six furlongs on the main track. A total of 98 horses were entered on both Thursday and Friday, an average of 10.8 per race. First race post time is 1:10 p.m.

There will be carryovers of $4,835.10 in the 50-cent Pick 5, offering an industry-low 12 percent takeout; $1,741.14 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 and $1,580.32 in the $1 Super Hi-5 from Laurel Park’s winter-spring meet, which concluded Sunday. The Super Hi-5 begins with Thursday’s opener, while the Rainbow 6 covers Races 4-9 and the Pick 5 spans Races 5-9.

Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado is named in three races on Friday’s program. Prado, who dominated Maryland racing for a decade before his departure in 1998, is returning to ride full-time on the state circuit after spending the past year and a half primarily in South Florida.

Pimlico is offering bonus money totaling $100,000 to trainers who run a minimum of five horses in combined stakes and starter races during Preakness weekend. The trainer with the most points will receive $50,000. Other bonuses include 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 Skipat, Miss Preakness, Allaire DuPont, Black-Eyed Susan, Pimlico Special, Hilltop, Jim McKay Turf Sprint, Maryland Sprint, Sir Barton, Chick Lang, Preakness, Gallorette, James W. Murphy, Longines Dixie and The Very One.

Preakness Week at Pimlico offers several events including Sunrise at Old Hilltop, where fans can have breakfast trackside while watching horses go through their morning exercise; the traditional Alibi Breakfast on Thursday, May 19; and Budweiser InfieldFest, one of the country’s most eclectic outdoor music festivals.

Headlining this year’s InfieldFest on Preakness Day, May 21, is the platinum selling DJ and producer duo The Chainsmokers along with special guest Fetty Wap on the main stage, with platinum-selling band All Time Low featured on the Jagermeister Stage. Additional information can be found on www.preakness.com.

The second-biggest day on the Maryland racing calendar behind Preakness Day in terms of purses, attendance and handle, Black-Eyed Susan Day features 14 races and events to benefit both Susan G. Komen Maryland and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. Additional information can be found on www.blackeyedsusanday.com.

Among the improvements at Pimlico this year is a new high-definition LED board measuring 21 feet high and 32 feet wide installed in the infield. After suffering a loss in water pressure during Preakness Day last year due to a water main break, a main booster pump has been installed to prevent another loss in pressure. There are also several new concessions and bar layouts, and offerings have been reconfigured to accommodate guests in a more timely manner.