Chad B. Harmon

Rain Continues to Affect Pimlico on Preakness Day

There was no training May 19, with most turf races moved to main track.

The poncho will replace the fascinator as the fashion of choice for the 143rd Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

As the unrelenting rain continued to fall early May 19, the track was closed for training and sealed in an effort to allow the moisture to run off the surface.

With the 8 a.m. temperature of 54 degrees and 100% humidity, the Acuweather forecast was calling for showers to continue throughout the day, with a greater chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. The chance of precipitation falls to 20% by the estimated 6:48 p.m. post time for the Preakness.

The Maryland Jockey Club racing office announced all turf races other than the $150,000 Stella Arrois Gallorette (G3T) will be contested over the main track.

With the $250,000 Maker's Mark Dixie Stakes (G2T) to the main track at 1 1/16 miles, early scratches included champion male turf horse World Approval, Divisidero, Doctor Mounty, and Frostmourne.

Tim Ritvo, The Stronach Group's chief operating officer, said Saturday morning that the decision to take the Dixie off the grass and not the Gallorette, despite the difference in purse and grade, was because track management was informed of several scratches regardless of the surface, including World Approval. Ritvo said Frostmourne and Doctor Mounty hadn't even shipped in for the race.

"The (inside) part of the turf course hasn't been run on yet this meet, so it will be pristine," Ritvo said. "But once you run on it, with the divots and everything created, we had to do what was safest for the horses."

Meanwhile, it was very quiet in the barn area, with Preakness contenders stretching their legs in the barn.

Jimmy Barnes, Bob Baffert's top assistant, said it was unlikely Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) winner Justify would have gone to the track anyway, because it is the stable's general practice not to train a horse the morning of a big race. He said the exception would probably be in the case of an individual that needed a light jog to release some nervous energy.

Other than the weather, the backstretch buzz was with the early odds, based on a pool of just more than $400,000 May 18. Predictably, Justify was at even-money, but was followed by the Steve Asmussen-trained Tenfold at 2-1, with Derby runner-up Good Magic at 9-1. Other early odds were Quip, 7-2; Lone Sailor, 30-1; Sporting Chance, 19-1; Diamond King, 70-1; and Bravazo, 19-1.

Additional reporting by Jeremy Balan.