02/02/2011 2:27PM

Bonuses, Black-Eyed Susan boost spice up Pimlico stakes slate


A significant purse boost for the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and the return of the Grade 3 Allaire du Pont Distaff are the two biggest changes on the proposed spring stakes schedule at Pimlico.

The schedule, released Wednesday by the Maryland Jockey Club after it was endorsed by both the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Maryland Horse Breeders Association, still must be approved by the Maryland Racing Commision, which meets Feb. 15 at Laurel Park.

Overall, Pimlico plans to offer 22 stakes, including seven graded events and two starter stakes, worth a collective $2.9 million during a 29-day meet that begins April 1. In comparison, a year ago Pimlico held 18 stakes worth $2.4 milllion during a 20-day meet that did not begin until mid-April. As usual, the $1 million Preaknesss will be the meet’s highlight.

The Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan purse has increased from $150,000 to $250,000. It is also the final leg of a series of races for 3-year-old fillies which carries a bonus of $2.2 million – $2 million to the owner and $200,000 to the trainer. Called the MID 2.2, the bonus is the sister version of the MID 5.5, which distributes bonuses totaling $5.5 million to the connections of any 3-year-old who wins a series of Triple Crown preps at MI Developments tracks and then wins the Preakness.

The Allaire du Pont Distaff reappears on the schedule after a one-year absence. The Pimlico Special, however, which was dropped from the schedule last year, will not be run again this year.

In another change, the Federico Tesio, formerly a Grade 3 and stepping-stone to the Preakness, is ungraded this year and has been shortened in distance from 1 1/8 miles to 1 1/16 miles. The Tesio, a Grade 3 race from 1986 to 1997, was contested at 1 1/16 miles from 1981 to 1991.