Three Churchill Downs-based contenders for Saturday's Preakness Stakes (gr. I) at Pimlico Race Course put in their final works on Tuesday morning at the Louisville oval.
Bits and pieces from around the industry...
Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and former mayor William Donald Schaefer have urged lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course remains in Baltimore.
Bettors on May 16-17 will be able to play the new "head-to-head wager" that debuted at the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. The wager will be offered on the Preakness Stakes, Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, Pimlico Special, and other stakes at Pimlico Race Course those two days.
Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. will propose 13,500 slot machines for three racetracks in time to generate $600 million in state tax revenue in two years, legislative sources told the Baltimore Sun.
The Maryland Racing Commission voted unanimously Nov. 13 to approve Magna Entertainment Corp. as majority owner of Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, turning the spotlight on Magna to begin fulfilling its promise for Maryland racing. The Preakness Stakes, second leg of the Triple Crown, is a big part of the equation.
The Maryland Racing Commission has reduced the penalties of two trainers who had been dealt lengthy suspensions after their horses raced at Pimlico Race Course with an illegal drug in their systems.
In his first public comments about specific plans for Maryland racing, Magna Entertainment chairman Frank Stronach said the company will tear down Pimlico Race Course and build a new track on the same site.
Magna Entertainment will hook up with Joe and Karin De Francis to own and operate Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course under a $117.5-million deal announced July 15. At least a partial sale of the two Maryland racetracks has been rumored for months.
A Maryland Jockey Club attorney told Maryland legislators June 25 that no deal has been made to sell Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course to Magna Entertainment, and that any deal would have to clear major regulatory hurdles.
The embattled racing industry in Maryland will receive $4.5 million--not $3 million as expected--from the state for Thoroughbred and Standardbred purses and breeders' funds. The money will become available July 1.
The Maryland Jockey Club has joined local, state, and federal law enforcement and other government agencies to develop and implement a thorough series of safety and security procedures May 17-18 for the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and Preakness Stakes, respectively.
Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes, opens April 3 for its 11-week spring meet. The session will feature 28 stakes -- 10 of them graded -- worth $3.6 million.
The Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, said the all-sources handle totaled $535,813,090, compared with $530,833,234 in 2000 despite the fact there were three less liveThoroughbred dates and 14 fewer Standardbred dates in 2001.
The Maryland Racing Commission on Nov. 27 granted the first new license to operate a racetrack in the state in more than 50 years. The commission gave the go-ahead to William Rickman Jr. and his father, William Rickman Sr., to build a small track in mountainous western Maryland. The last new licenses issued were in 1949 for the Rosecroft Raceway and Ocean Downs harness tracks.
Colonial Downs was awarded 26 Thoroughbred dates for 2002, and the Virginia track will again race in the summer.
In an about-face, the Maryland Jockey Club will keep the Pimlico Race Course barn area open all winter. The MJC attributed the move to an "unanticipated increase in demand by trainers for stabling."
For the first time in nine years, the festive Maryland Million celebration will be conducted at historic Pimlico Racecourse.
A decision by the Maryland Jockey Club to close the barn area at Pimlico Race Course at the end of October and force trainers to move prompted an immediate outcry from horsemen. Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the MJC, said the decision was a cost-cutting measure. He said the barns at Pimlico would reopen about March 1, 2002.
Pimlico Race Course, known as the home of the Preakness Stakes in the spring, opens Thursday for a six-week fall meet that will conclude with the Maryland Million on closing day, Oct. 13.
Racing, breeding, and industry news
Large panels of glass in the grandstand overlooking the track at Laurel Park have been cracking at an alarming rate. The situation, which already has forced the transfer of some racing dates to Pimlico Race Course, has prompted the Maryland Jockey Club to hire a team of experts to find the cause and propose a solution.
Two Item Limit will be seeking her fourth graded stakes victory on Friday in the $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) at Pimlico Race Course. The 3-year-old filly will face four rivals in the 1 1/8 mile event.
Top older horses will be in the spotlight the weekend between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in the grade I Pimlico Special, which has lured 13 nominess. The 1 3/16-mile event will held at Pimlico Race Course May 12.
Chris McCarron rode his first winner at old Bowie Race Course in 1974, and on Saturday, he'll have a chance to ride the 7,000th winner of his career in Maryland during the "Spring Challenge" at Pimlico Race Course.
Maryland racing officials have confirmed that a $10-million purse subsidy the industry has received in each of the last four years has been rejected by the state Assembly. Purses at Thoroughbred tracks could drop by 15%, according to published reports.
With a Saturday deadline to land a seat on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association board of directors fast approaching, the Maryland Jockey Club has rejoined the NTRA, and its president, Joe De Francis, will take a seat on the NTRA board.
For the first time since its inception in Maryland in 1990, the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash will be run this year in the fall instead of the summer. The $300,000 race, one of only two grade I six-furlong events in the country, will headline a "fall festival day" of a half-dozen stakes Nov. 17 at Laurel Park, said Lou Raffetto Jr., chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club.
On Wednesday, representatives of the Maryland Jockey Club will ask the state's racing commission for permission to cease racing at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park for parts of June and July so that Thoroughbreds can race at Colonial Downs. The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association doesn't support the plan.
Spring in Maryland means the return of live racing at Pimlico Race Course, which opens March 28 for an 11-week meet highlighted by the May 19 Preakness Stakes, second leg of the Triple Crown.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has reiterated its position that live racing shouldn't be suspended in the state in June and July, and that Colonial Downs in Virginia should continue to offer Thoroughbred racing in September and early October.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association has recommended that Maryland's racetracks maintain a schedule whereby there is a shutdown in September. That throws the decision on Colonial Downs dates back to the Virginia Racing Commisssion.
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