What a difference a day makes. On Friday in Baltimore, the morning began with rain, wind, and chilliness. Patrons heading to Pimlico Saturday for the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) awoke to bright, sunny skies and temperatures so pleasant jackets and sweaters were not necessary.
A very long line was waiting to pay $50 to enter the infield, while at the stakes barn, all was quiet as post time for the middle leg of the Triple Crown was only 10 hours away.
Despite the bad weather on Friday, 13,265 showed up, many arriving late, to watch Eddington win the grade I Pimlico Special Handicap. With the beautiful weather as the sun came up Saturday, a large crowd could be expected for Preakness day.
The track was sloppy Friday and three races were taken off the turf (the lone stakes on the grass remained), but track superintendent Jamie Richardson assured that Saturday the track would be fast. Indeed, as patrons began arriving on Preakness day, the track looked to be in fine shape.
With the track sealed overnight Thursday, despite more than an inch of rain, the track dried out quickly. In the first race Preakness day, optional claimers in non-winners of two other than ran six furlongs in 1:10.42. The dirt track is fast and the turf is listed as soft.
The forecast for Saturday is for a high of 70 with a 30% chance of showers beginning at 1 p.m. The first post on the lengthy 13-race card is set for 10:30 a.m., and the 14 horses in the Preakness field are supposed to leave the gate at 6:09 p.m.
There are a number of other stakes on the card, including the Dixie Stakes (gr. II), Maryland Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III), and William D. Schaefer Handicap (gr. III).
The festivities on the day include an Air Force flyover and the traditional singing of "Maryland, My Maryland" by the Naval Academy Men's Glee Club.
But the race everyone is waiting for will feature the first three finishers from the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) -- Giacomo, Closing Argument, and Afleet Alex. The latter is the favorite in the advance Preakness odds.
The only big news Preakness morning was confirmation that a half-interest in Closing Argument had been sold by Philip and Marcia Cohen to Becky Thomas and Dennis Narlinger.