After securing the top bonus from Pimlico Race Course last year in its program that rewards trainers who support its Preakness Stakes (G1) weekend stakes races, Steve Asmussen appears well positioned for another run.
Pimlico is again offering the program, which will pay $100,000 in bonus money based on performance in the weekend's 15 stakes races May 18-19. Trainers need to start at least five horses to be eligible for an award.
Points are accumulated for finishing first (10 points), second (7), third (5), fourth (3), and having a starter (1) in the Skipat Stakes, Adena Springs Miss Preakness Stakes (G3), Allaire duPont Distaff Stakes (G3), Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2), Pimlico Special Stakes (G3), Hilltop Stakes, Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes, Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3), LARC Sir Barton Stakes, Chick Lang Stakes, Preakness, Gallorette Stakes (G3T), James W. Murphy Stakes, Dixie Stakes (G2T), and The Very One Stakes.
The trainer with the most points will receive $50,000. The other payouts are $25,000 for second, $12,000 for third, $7,000 for fourth, $4,000 for fifth, and $2,000 for sixth.
It appears three trainers could be eligible for this year's bonuses. Asmussen leads all trainers with 12 horses entered, and Graham Motion has entered nine. Todd Pletcher has entered five, meaning a scratch would remove him from eligibility.
Last year, Asmussen earned 38 points to take the top prize, paced by Terra Promessa's victory in the duPont and Vertical Oak's score in the Miss Preakness. Asmussen, who earned his 8,000th win this month, has entered Winchell Thoroughbreds' Tenfold in the Preakness, a 20-1 longshot. Vertical Oak is back at Pimlico, this time for the Skipat, and Asmussen also will send out Mitole, the 3-5 morning-line favorite in the Chick Lang.
The seven stakes races Friday averaged 9.4 entries. The eight stakes Saturday averaged 9.5 entries.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story suggested four trainers could be eligible for the bonus. While Gary Capuano has five entered, he has two horses cross-entered at Pimlico, which means he will not have five starters.