04/01/2014 12:35PM

Pimlico: Preakness meet opens, Jackpot 5 minimum lowered

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Broad Rule, winning the Fire Plug Stakes, goes in the Thursday feature at Pimlico.

Horseplayers on a budget will be happy to learn that the minimum bet has been lowered from 50 cents to a dime for the Pimlico Players Jackpot Pick 5. The revised version of the exotic wager debuts Thursday, when Pimlico launches its 35-day spring meet.

From opening day through May 3, any bettor with a unique 10-cent winning ticket on the Pimlico Pick 5 will receive a minimum of $50,000, plus a trip for two to the 2014 Preakness with seats in the Turfside Terrace section. As a 50-cent wager, the most recent Jackpot  5 at Laurel Park paid $87,835 on March 13.

Considered the marquee meet of the Maryland racing season, Pimlico spring will offer 25 stakes worth a collective $4.68 million, an increase of $875,000 from last year’s meet. As usual, the highlight comes on Preakness Day, featuring the 139th running of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, the second leg of racing’s Triple Crown. Nine stakes are on the Preakness card, including the Grade 2 Dixie Handicap and a pair of Grade 3 stakes, the Gallorette Handicap and the Maryland Sprint Handicap.

The Preakness received a $500,000 purse boost. The Dixie purse was raised to $400,000 and the race was shortened from 1 1/8 to 1 1/16 miles. Seven other stakes received $25,000 purse hikes apiece to $100,000.

The Preakness Friday card features eight stakes, headlined by the Grade 2, $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan and the Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special.

A new bonus will be offered to trainers who run stakes horses on Preakness weekend. Trainers who start at least five horses in 15 of the stakes May 16-17 will be eligible to divide $100,000, with points awarded on a sliding scale of 10-7-5-3-1 for each first- through fifth-place finish.

“There is a special feeling about Pimlico because of Preakness weekend, but the entire meet is important to us,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “We are excited to use the new and improved turf course on opening day and throughout the meet. Grass racing usually means larger fields and improved handle.”

The nine-race card on opening day includes the first two turf races this year in Maryland as well as the $50,000 feature, a fourth-level optional $40,000 claimer for older horses going six furlongs on dirt. The eighth race, it includes Major King, a five-time winner in Korea during 2013, including a Group 2 stakes going 1 1/4 miles, and Broad Rule, winner of the six-furlong Fire Plug at Laurel in January.

The two turf races on opening day are a $20,000 claimer at one mile (race 5), which drew a full field of 12, and a first-level allowance for fillies and mares going a mile (race 7), which drew 13 runners in the main body, plus three entered for the main track only.