04/02/2013 2:28PM

Pimlico meet adds days, ups purses

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Maryland horsemen will get three extra weeks to chase richer purses during the spring meet that opens Thursday at Pimlico.

Unlike the recent past, when the Preakness Stakes on the third Saturday in May marked closing day, Pimlico has expanded from 29 to 36 racing days. That stretches the meet to June 8, which coincides with the running of the last leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. The longer meet also allows Pimlico to be open for the Memorial Day holiday.

Laurel and Pimlico are expected to race a total of at least 146 days per year for the foreseeable future as part of a 10-year agreement struck between track officials and Maryland’s horsemen late in 2012. Maryland horsemen also receive a cut of revenue from the state’s casinos, which have helped boost purses.

The bulk of the meet’s stakes action will take place on Preakness weekend, when 17 stakes worth $3.4 million will be offered on Friday and Saturday. The $1 million Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown, will be run May 18.

Preakness Day will have nine stakes, including five graded events. In addition to the Preakness, the card will feature the Grade 2, $300,000 Dixie Handicap and three Grade 3 races.

The Preakness eve card has eight stakes, headlined by the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan and the Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special. The $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan has been given a $200,000 purse increase this year.

A year ago, Pimlico offered 22 stakes worth a collective $3,425,000. This spring, Pimlico will run 26 stakes worth $4,030,000 , an increase of $605,000. Those totals include a pair of $40,000 starter handicap events for Maryland-breds that the Maryland Jockey Club lists as part of the stakes schedule.

Overnight purses are up 10 to 15 percent across the board, according to Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club. The increases in certain categories, however, are even larger. Purses for maiden special weight events, which went for $33,000 last year, are now worth $40,000, an increase of 21 percent. A first-level allowance race that carried a $35,000 purse in 2012 is now worth $42,000, a 20 percent raise.

The opening day nine-race card includes two starter allowances and a pair of second-level optional $25,000 claimers for fillies and mares with purses of $45,000. In the first co-feature (race 6), a six-furlong sprint, the 4-year-old Vicarious Won steps up after clearing her first allowance condition by 10 1/2 lengths. Her opponents include the Jamie Ness-trained Dakota Sis, a winner going five furlongs in her two starts this season, both in Florida. In the other co-feature (race 8), at 1 1/16 miles, prime contenders include Carrietta, who won twice at this level last fall at Laurel, and Merryland Moon, a 2 1/4-length winner of a first-level allowance last time out.

1971 Whippet More than 1 year ago
Can't even remember the last year I made it to Pimlico, maybe 1995. It was a dump then and I don't think there's been a significant improvement to the grandstand or clubhouse, has there? And if anyone thinks that taking casino money to supplement the purses is an answer to this sports' decline, wow.... Does anyone know the trend of on-track wagering in Maryland?
Jim More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan since 1969. The decline of Maryland racing has pained me as well as Andy Beyer. Each year, we attend the Terrace Dining Room at Delaware Park on Preakness day. It is a terrific venue to watch live racing and, with TV's on the table we wager on the entire Preakness card. The racing in Maryland on a normal Saturday is better then all but a few days at Delaware Park. With the annoying Arabian race to close the card, Preakness day at Delaware Park is pretty sorry. One year, there was a race with 3 entrants after scratches. What do they do with the casino money. Put the same amount of cash into the Maryland racing industry and we will rival New York and Florida.
JoeyB More than 1 year ago
I don't care how much the purses go up with Delaware open your still going to have six and seven horse fields before scratches.
peter k More than 1 year ago
Most of the horses will be the same ,just running for more money.They may get some runners from Oaklawn that may have normally travelled to Delaware park
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SO WHAT! If you are an owner, that's a good thing. Everything can't be about the dam gambler! You won't have anything to gamble on if nobody wants to own!
Sir More than 1 year ago
Whatever happened to the Sir Barton Stakes? That seemed to be an up and coming nice prep for The Belmont Stakes.
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
Waste of money on the Black-Eyed Susan purse increase. Oaks fillies aren't going to come back on two weeks rest. This isn't the Triple Crown. Should have made the Pimlico Special the race worth $500k. That used to be one of the biggest races for older horses of the year. I'd love to see it regain that status. Many great horses have contested the Pimlico Special through the years. I also like that it's 1 3/16 miles.
Mark D More than 1 year ago
Agreed.....$$$ better spent on Pimlico Special than Black Eyed Susan
Hadrian Marcus More than 1 year ago
Agreed...money should have went to the Pimlico Special. With horses (Game On Dude, etc.) already local to run the Classic in Charles Town...would be a natural step just to stay in the area and run the Special four week later.
Nathan More than 1 year ago
happy days are here again. now they have to get rid of adjunct with lasix and really lower their take-outs.