12/12/2013 2:15PM

Preakness purse raised to $1.5 million

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The purse for the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, has been raised to $1.5 million from $1 million, the Maryland Jockey Club announced Thursday.

It is the first purse increase for the Preakness since it went from $500,000 to $1 million in 1998. The purse for the Kentucky Derby was raised to $2 million in 2005. The purse for the Belmont Stakes is $1 million. The New York Racing Association has not yet released its stakes schedule for the 2014 Belmont spring/summer meet and officials on Friday were not prepared to discuss a potential purse increase for the Belmont.

This year’s Preakness will be run on May 17 at Pimlico.

“The Preakness Stakes is the centerpiece of a terrific stakes program that weekend,” Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, said in a press release. “Seventeen of the 26 races on Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan days are stakes. With this increase the total value of our stakes program over the two-day period is nearly $4 million.”

“I support the move,” said Maryland Racing Commission chairman Bruce Quade. “It is another step in bringing Maryland racing back to a preeminent spot in the racing landscape.”

At its inauguration in 1873, the Preakness carried a value of $1,000. The first major increase occurred in 1919 when the race had a $25,000 value. It climbed to $100,000 in 1946 and in 1959 was raised to $150,000, the highest among Triple Crown races.

From 1979 to 1989, the purse rose four times from $200,000 to $500,000, before attaining its present status of $1 million.