(Edited press release)
The Maryland Jockey Club unveiled the 2007 Pimlico spring stakes schedule Feb. 20 after reaching an agreement with both the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Horse Breeders Association. The schedule was approval by the Maryland Racing Commission.
The 31-day meeting at the Baltimore track will begin April 19 and conclude June 9. The headline event of the eight-week stand is the 132nd running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, May 19.
The meet will feature 26 stakes races for purses of $3.915 million. Fourteen of the added-money races, including all nine of the graded stakes for the meet, are slated for Preakness week, including nine on Preakness day. The opening Saturday of the spring meet, April 21, features five stakes races and showcases Maryland-bred and Maryland-sired horses.
“It seems early to be thinking about springtime at Pimlico, but realistically it is just around the corner,” said Lou Raffetto, Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer. “When we talk about Pimlico and the Preakness it is always a motivating time for everyone at the Maryland Jockey Club.”
The May 18 card will feature five stakes races for fillies and mares, including the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II), the Allaire duPont Breeders’ Cup Distaff, which was upgraded from grade III to grade II status, and the Adena Stallions’ Miss Preakness (gr. III).
Last month, Pimlico officials announced that they had canceled the 2007 running of the Pimlico Special (gr. I) due to a purse shortage. The $500,000 Pimlico Special was the second most prestigious race on the Maryland racing calendar, trailing only the Preakness, and is one of only three grade I races, along with the Preakness and the Frank De Francis Memorial Dash, annually run in Maryland.
“We still have the Black-Eyed Susan to top a wonderful card,” Raffetto said. “We are hopeful things fall into line and that the Special returns next year.”
The Maryland Jockey Club announced Dec. 20 that it had changed the name of the Sir Barton Stakes to the Barbaro Stakes. The mile and a sixteenth test for three-year-olds is one of eight added-money races on the Preakness undercard.
"In light of what transpired at last year’s Preakness, we believed it was fitting to name a stakes on Preakness day for Barbaro," Raffetto said. "It will be a special time when we remember Barbaro for his accomplishments--not just on the racetrack, but what he did for the industry in the months following his injury."
Other changes to the stakes schedule include: discontinuation of the Jim McKay Breeders’ Cup Handicap; name change of Hoover Stakes to Jim McKay Sprint; name change of Baltimore Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint to Baltimore City Turf Sprint; addition of the Whimsical Stakes to the May 18 card; and distance changes of Woodlawn Stakes (1 1/16th mile turf to one-mile turf), Hilltop Stakes (1 1/16th mile turf to one-mile turf), and Xtra Heat Stakes (five furlongs to 5 1/2 furlongs).