BALTIMORE, MD 04-15-2009 --- Live racing shifts to historic Pimlico Race Course Saturday, April 18 for the spring meeting.<--!break--> The headline event of the six week stand is the 134th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (Grade I), the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, on May 16.
“You get a unique feeling driving down Winner Avenue and into the facility,” said Tom Chuckas, Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer. “This is a storied place with a deep tradition and is the second oldest racetrack in the country. The Pimlico meet has a festive atmosphere buoyed by one of the premier races in our industry.”
The marquee meet of the Maryland racing season will feature 21 stakes races. Preakness weekend features 16 stakes races for more than $2.3 million in purses, including all nine of the graded stakes for the meet.
The Preakness day card features nine stakes races, seven of them graded. In addition to the Preakness, other top races include the Dixie Handicap (Grade II), the Allaire duPont Distaff (Grade II) and four Grade III races.
The Friday, May 15 card features seven stakes races, six for fillies and mares, highlighted by the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for three-year-old fillies and the Adena Stallions’ Miss Preakness (Grade III). The day will also include eight of the nation’s top riders in the inaugural Jockey Challenge.
Pimlico officials announced in February that they are redefining the Infield experience on Preakness day. Preakness InfieldFEST, presented by Bud Light, will feature a concert with three rock performances, including Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top, Grammy-nominated Buckcherry and Baltimore-based Charm City Devils. In addition, the Toyota Pro Beach East Volleyball Tour will kick off its 2009 season with a special one day professional women’s beach volleyball doubles tournament and an interactive area will be housed under a 40' x 80' tent.
The opening day of spring stand features a pair of Maryland-bred stakes races for fillies and mares plus a “halftime” concert in-between the fifth and sixth races with country music star Darryl Worley. Worley, who will also perform the National Anthem before the Saturday card, is best known for “Have You Forgotten”, which was nominated for the CMA Song-of-the Year. Other opening day attractions include concession specials, a BBQ on the Apron and a chance to win Charm City prize packs, including tickets to the Preakness and Baltimore Orioles.
The meet will also be the debut of a new wager-The Super High 5 to replace the Pick 6. Bettors must pick the first five finishers in exact order in the last race at Pimlico each day. If unhit, a carryover will build each day.
The 20-day stand will conclude Saturday, May 23, racing on a Thursday through Sunday schedule.
First post for 17 days of the meeting will be 1:10 p.m. with adjustments on Preakness (10:15 a.m.), Black-Eyed Susan (12:15 p.m.) and Kentucky Derby (12:45 p.m.) days.