Anne M. Eberhardt

Pimlico to Kick Off Spring Meet April 17

The Preakness Stakes (gr. I) highlights the six-week Maryland meet.

Live racing in Maryland shifts to Pimlico Race Course April 17. The historic track’s six-week spring meeting is highlighted by the 135th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I)  May 15. The meet will feature 18 stakes races for purses of $2,435,000. Preakness weekend features 15 stakes races worth more than $2.2 million.

Opening day at Old Hilltop will feature a ceremony honoring former Pimlico general manager Chick Lang, who passed away March 21, the $70,000 Henry Clark Stakes, and a concert between the fifth and sixth races featuring country music star Steve Azar. Other opening day attractions include concession specials, a BBQ on the Apron, and a chance to win Preakness tickets and Southwest Airlines vouchers.

The May 14 card, Black-Eyed Susan day, includes seven stakes races, six for fillies and mares. Pimlico has partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, to raise funds and aid awareness. The feature race will be the 86th running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies. On track events will also include a historic pari-mutuel race showcasing legendary retired female riders as well as the second annual $50,000 Pimlico Jockey Challenge, where eight of the nation’s top jockeys compete in four races with points awarded based on their finish.

Preakness day will have eight stakes, six of which are graded, including the Dixie Handicap (gr. II). The Preakness InfieldFEST, presented by Budweiser Select, will include performances by Grammy Award winner Zac Brown Band and platinum selling musical group O.A.R. The day-long celebration will also include live music, entertainment, and a variety of Maryland-branded food and beverage concessions. Preakness Day is the largest single day sporting event in the state of Maryland with attendance figures topping six-figures in eight of the last nine years, including a record 121,263 in 2007.

“There is something special about Pimlico,” said Tom Chuckas, Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer. “We are eager to begin the meet Saturday and energized for what promises to be an exceptional Preakness weekend.”

Racing will be held on a Thursday through Sunday schedule. First post will be 1:10 p.m. EST with adjustments on Preakness (10:45 a.m.), Black-Eyed Susan (12:15 p.m.) and Kentucky Derby (12:45 p.m.) days.