The Maryland Racing Commission approved the 2014 Pimlico Race Course spring stakes schedule at its monthly meeting Feb. 18.
The headline event of the 10-week meeting is the 139th running of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the middle jewel of horse racing's famed Triple Crown, on May 17.
The marquee meet of the Maryland racing season will feature 25 stakes races for purses totaling $4.68 million. The Preakness day undercard features eight other stakes races, including three graded races. The May 16 card features eight stakes races, highlighted by the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) and the $300,000 Pimlico Special (gr. III).
In addition, Pimlico will debut a $100,000 trainer bonus on Preakness weekend. Trainers will earn points based on finishes in 15 stakes races May 16-17 including the:
• Black-Eyed Susan, Pimlico Special, Miss Preakness, Jim McKay Turf Sprint, Hilltop, Skipat, and Rollicking on May 16
• Preakness, Dixie (gr. II), Maryland Sprint (gr. III), Gallorette (gr. III), Chick Lang, James Murphy, Sir Barton, and The Very One on May 17.
Trainers will receive points for finishing first (10 points), second (7), third (5), fourth (3) and starting a horse (1 point) in each race. The winner will earn $50,000. Other prize money: $25,000 (second), $12,000 (third), $7,000 (fourth), $4,000 (fifth), and $2,000 (sixth). Trainers must have started five horses in the stakes combined to be eligible.
"It is extremely competitive during the Triple Crown season with so many high profile races," said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. "We are working hard to increase the profile of Preakness weekend. We hope adding the trainer bonus will lead to larger fields and more wagering."
The other modifications to the 2014 stakes schedule are:
• $100,000 purse increase to the Dixie Stakes from $300,000 to $400,000 and changing the distance from 1 1/8 miles to 1 1/16 miles.
• Not carding the Allaire duPont Stakes (gr. III) for fillies and mares on Preakness day.
• Increased purses of Dahlia, Twixt, Tesio, Henry Clark, Primonetta, Stormy Blues, and Shine Again Stakes from $75,000 to $100,000.
• Changing the name of the Canonero II Stakes to the Sir Barton Stakes, increasing the purse from $75,000 to $100,000, altering the condition to non-winners of a sweepstakes, and moving the race from early June to Preakness day.
The Pimlico spring stand will begin April 3, with live racing taking place four days a week on a Thursday through Sunday schedule prior to Preakness, and then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (plus Memorial Day). The 35-day meet will end on June 7, Belmont Stakes (gr. I) day.