Fast Track for Preakness, Passero Says
Date Posted: 5/16/2003 12:55:00 PM
Last Updated: 5/16/2003 1:55:42 PM

Pimlico track superintendent John Passero said he is confident the racing surface will be fast Saturday for the middle leg of the Triple Crown. "If the rain stops," Passero said Friday.

At the time he spoke, about 12:45 p.m. (EDT), the track had received 1 ¾ inches of rain overnight. Passero said the latest forecast was for another quarter-inch to fall before the rain subsided at 4-5 p.m.

There is a 30% chance of light rain for Saturday morning, Passero said.

"Right now, it is just like last year," Passero said. "We've been floating the track and if the rain stops, the track will be fast on Saturday."

The turf races were moved to the main track on Friday and Passero said no decision on grass racing for Saturday would be made until tomorrow morning. "If the rain stops, I certainly think we will race on the turf on Saturday."

The only issue regarding turf racing Saturday, Passero, who has been in charge of the Pimlico surfaces since 1987, is "safety."

Passero, widely respected as a top track superintendent, said "there is some water laying on the track right now," but underneath is a very solid track.

"After the last race Thursday, we took 10,000-pound rollers and packed the track down hard," he said. "If the rain stops, the moisture on the track will disappear."

On Friday night, Passero said he will probably just "let the track sit. We'll let Mother Nature work it out."

Passero said since last year's Preakness, 1,000 tons of sand were added to the Pimlico dirt track.

Only horses racing on Preakness Day will be allowed on the track Saturday morning, Passero said.

Pimlico always has a lively infield crowd. "It will definitely be wet in the infield," he said.

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