03/16/2009 11:00PM

Track plans 21 stakes, but no Pimlico Special


Pimlico Racecourse has canceled the Grade 1 Pimlico Special for the third time in eight years as it struggles to make ends meet on a weakening racing circuit.

The $250,000 Special, a 1 1/8-mile race for older horses that was also canceled in 2002 and 2007, will be suspended for one year, Pimlico said Tuesday, along with the Barbaro Stakes, a $100,000 race for 3-year-olds. However, Pimlico has reinstated the Grade 3 William Donald Schaefer Handicap, a $100,000 race with conditions similar to that of the Pimlico Special.

In total, Pimlico will card 21 stakes races worth $2.6 million during its 20-day spring meet that begins on April 18 and ends on May 23, the track said. The most prominent of those stakes is the $1 million Preakness, scheduled for May 16. The Preakness is the second leg of the Triple Crown series for 3-year-olds.

Sixteen of the 21 stakes have been scheduled for the Preakness card and the card on the Friday prior to the Preakness, when the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for 3-year-old fillies will be held.

Last year, Pimlico ran a 31-day spring meet, but the track cut the live race days to 20 this year after reaching an agreement with its horsemen to address a $2 million purse shortfall.

Pimlico is owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., which filed for bankruptcy protection on March 5. Magna also owns Pimlico's sister track, Laurel Park.