02/11/2004 12:00AM

Pimilico cuts some purses

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Despite a projected purse shortfall of $2 million this year in Maryland, Pimlico Race Course has kept most of its spring stakes schedule intact.

The Baltimore track will run 26 stakes worth $3,825,000. At last year's spring meet, $4,335,000 was allocated for 27 stakes.

The lone casualty is the Joe Aitcheson, a Grade 1 steeplechase worth $100,000 that was canceled last spring because of excessive rain.

Two major stakes absorbed significant purse cuts. The Grade 1 Pimlico Special was reduced from $600,000 to $500,000. Two years ago, the Special was not run because of a lack of funds.

The Federico Tesio, a 1 1/8-mile prep for the Preakness Stakes, was cut by $50,000 and is now worth $100,000.

Nine other stakes were reduced $25,000 apiece, seven of which are now worth $50,000.

As usual, the biggest weekend of racing at the meet will be the weekend of the Preakness. The Grade 1, $1 million Preakness, the second leg of racing's Triple Crown, is one of eight stakes on May 15. Four other graded stakes are also on that program, headed by the Grade 2, $200,000 Argent Dixie on turf.

The May 14 card will have five stakes, including the Pimlico Special and the Grade 2, $200,000 Black-Eyed Susan for 3-year-old fillies.