The Maryland Jockey Club has unveiled the 2006 Pimlico spring stakes schedule after reaching agreements with both the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and Maryland Horse Breeders Association.
The headline event of the eight-week stand that begins April 20 is the 131st running of the $1-million Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 20. The 31-day meeting at the historic Baltimore track will conclude June 10, pending approval by the Maryland Racing Commission.
The marquee meet of the Maryland racing season will feature 27 stakes races for purses of $4.455 million. Purses for 13 races were increased from a year ago, while just one was decreased. Fourteen of the added-money races, including all 10 of the graded stakes for the meet, are slated for Preakness week, including nine on Preakness Day.
"Springtime in Maryland is always an exciting time," said Lou Raffetto, Maryland Jockey Club president and chief operating officer. "We believe that it will be even more appealing this year as a result of the nature of the program and increases in the stakes."
The grade I Pimlico Special tops the May 19 card that features four other stakes races. The Special's $500,000 purse helps make the day the third biggest on the Maryland racing calendar.
The opening Saturday of the spring stand (April 22) includes five six-figure stakes races and showcases Maryland-bred and Maryland-sired horses. Purses for the three Maryland Million/Maryland-bred races are now $125,000, up $25,000 from a year ago.
Other changes to the stakes schedule include:
- Changed name of Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff to Allaire duPont Breeders' Cup Distaff.
- Increased purses of five graded races including Black-Eyed Susan ($200,000 to $250,000), Dixie ($200,000 to $250,000) and Adena Stallions' Miss Preakness ($100,000 to $125,000). Pimlico has increased its share of the purses to both Allaire duPont Breeders' Cup Distaff and Maryland Breeders' Cup Sprint, from $100,000 to $125,000.
- Added Baltimore Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint to Preakness undercard (formerly Ben Cohen Stakes). Purse doubled to $100,000.
- Moved Woodlawn Stakes from Preakness day to Kentucky Derby (gr. I) day. Purse was dropped from $100,000 to $75,000.
- Discontinued Deputed Testamony Stakes-opting for Shine Again Stakes for Maryland-bred fillies and mares.
- Added Hoover Stakes to spring schedule (previously run during Laurel winter stand).
The Pimlico racing office expects to card 10 races a day on Thursday, Friday and Sunday and have an 11-race program on Saturday. The May 19 and 20 cards will feature 13 races.
"The four day racing week will allow us to create a stronger racing program for our fans across the country," added Raffetto. "The increases in the stakes, particularly during Preakness week, will make it more desirable than ever for horsemen to come to Pimlico to support the best racing Maryland has to offer."
First post for 27 days of the meeting will be 1:10 p.m. with adjustments on Preakness (10:30 a.m.), Pimlico Special-Black-Eyed Susan (12:15 p.m.), Kentucky Derby (12:45 p.m.) and Belmont Stakes (12:45 p.m.) days.