02/28/2012 4:06PM

Pimlico's stakes schedule gets $525,000 bump from casino subsidy


Stakes purses for the 2012 Pimlico spring meeting in Baltimore, Md., will be worth $525,000 more this year, the track’s operator announced Tuesday, because of the impact of purse subsidies generated by casinos in the state.

The 29-day meet, which is scheduled to run from March 30 to May 19, will feature 22 stakes races worth a total of $3.425 million, highlighted by the $1 million Preakness Stakes on closing day. Sixteen of the stakes are scheduled to be run on the Friday before the Preakness and as part of the Preakness card, with total purses of $3 million.

The Maryland Racing Commission approved the stakes schedule Tuesday.

As part of the revamped stakes schedule, Pimlico has dropped the William Donald Schaefer Stakes and replaced it with the $300,000 Pimlico Special, a Grade 3 race for older horses with a rich history that has only been run once since 2007. In consultation with Maryland’s horsemen, the track has canceled the Special several times because of shortfalls in purses.

Those shortfalls appear to be in the track’s past, almost entirely because of an influx in purse subsidies from two casinos that are operating in the state. Another casino near Pimlico’s sister track, Laurel Park, is expected to open this summer, leading to another large increase in subsidies.

The purses of several stakes received sizeable bumps. The Grade 2 Dixie Stakes will be worth $300,000 this meet, up from $200,000 last year; the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes will be worth $300,000, up from $250,000; and the Grade 3 Gallorette Stakes will be worth $150,000, up from $100,000.

Racing during the meet is scheduled for four days a week, Thursday through Sunday, with the exception of Easter Sunday.