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The 146th running of the Preakness Stakes (Grade I), is back to its regular spot as the Covid pandemic subsides, as the second jewel of the Triple Crown, set for Saturday, May 15, 2021 at historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Preakness Stakes is on Saturday, May 15, 2021
The Preakness Stakes is raced at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland
Post positions are scheduled to be drawn Monday, May 10 at Pimlico.
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Featuring the return of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) to its familiar position as the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, the Maryland Jockey Club will offer 16 stakes, 10 graded, worth $3.25 Million in purses over Preakness weekend, May 14-15, at Pimlico Race Course.
Postponed to October 3 last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, the latest running in a history that dates back to 1873, the 146th Preakness for 3-year-olds going 1 3/16 miles highlights a program of 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.25 million Saturday, May 15 that includes the 120th edition of the $250,000 Dinner Party (G2) for 3-year-olds and up on turf, Pimlico's oldest stakes race and the eighth-oldest in the country, debuting in 1870.
In 2020, Swiss Skydiver become only the sixth filly in race history to win the Preakness, beating Kentucky Derby (G1) and subsequent Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Authentic, who would go on to be named champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year. Swiss Skydiver was named champion 3-year-old filly.
Thirty-six horses have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. This year, Medina Spirit will try to make it 37 when the Bob Baffert-trained colt enters the starting gates. Medina Spirit, who was a 15-1 long shot at Churchill Downs, held off the late charge of pre-Kentucky Derby favorite Essential Quality to win the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Other graded-stakes on the Preakness undercard are the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) for 3-year-olds sprinting six furlongs, $150,000 Gallorette (G3) for fillies and mares 3 and up going 1 1/16 miles on the grass, $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and up, and $100,000 Arabian Derby (G1) for Arabian 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.
Sophomores will also be in the Preakness Day spotlight in both the $100,000 Sir Barton going 1 1/16 miles on dirt and $100,000 James W. Murphy at one mile on the grass. Rounding out the stakes are the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint, a five-furlong dash for 3-year-olds and up, and $100,000 Skipat for females 3 and older sprinting six furlongs.
Both the Maryland Sprint, which had run continuously since its debut in 1989, and Sir Barton, first held in 1993 and named for racing's first Triple Crown winner, return to the stakes schedule this year.
The 97th running of the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2), one of the premiere events in the country for 3-year-old fillies and contested at 1 1/8 miles, returns to its spot as the feature on Preakness eve, Friday, May 14, after being run as part of the revamped Preakness 2020 program.
A total of six stakes, four graded, worth $1 million in purses help comprise the Black-Eyed Susan Day card, including the historic $250,000 Pimlico Special (G3) for 3-year-olds and up at 1 3/16 miles, $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) for 3-year-old fillies sprinting six furlongs, and $150,000 Allaire du Pont (G3).
Use the links below to learn more about the second leg of the `Triple Crown of Horse Racing'
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who became the winningest trainer in Kentucky Derby (G1) history by saddling Medina Spirit for an upset victory Saturday at Churchill Downs, is hoping to make history again in the 146th Preakness Stakes (G1) May 15 at Pimlico Race Course.
Zedan Racing's Medina Spirit became the seventh Kentucky Derby winner trained by Baffert, who had been tied with legendary Ben Jones for most victories by a trainer in the Run for the Roses.
In this year's Preakness, Baffert will seek to break a tie with Robert Wyndham Walden, who saddled seven Preakness winners between 1875 and 1888. Baffert has been represented in the Preakness winner's circle by Triple Crown champions Justify (2018) and American Pharoah (2015), as well as Lookin At Lucky (2010), War Emblem (2002), Point Given (2001), Real Quiet (1998) and Silver Charm (1997).
Medina Spirit, who held gamely to register a 12-1 upset Derby victory by a half-length after setting a solid pace, and Gary and Mary West's Concert Tour, the Rebel (G2) winner and third-place Arkansas Derby (G1) finisher at Oaklawn, were very much in the Preakness picture for Baffert Sunday morning.
"So far he came out of the race well," Baffert, who was scheduled to return to California Sunday, told the assembled media Sunday morning at Churchill Downs. "I'll watch them closely. I'll come back next weekend. But right now, I don't see anything that would discourage me."
Baffert's horses will stay at Churchill Downs before traveling to Pimlico. Normally, Baffert's horses fly from Louisville on the Wednesday before the Preakness. However, he said Tex Sutton Equine Air Transportation, which flies horses across America, is being shut down for a period of time after this week, and thus his horses will van to Baltimore. He said he's working on travel arrangements.
Medina Spirit, who entered the Kentucky Derby off a runner-up finish behind Rock Your World in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), gave Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez his fourth victory in the first jewel of the Triple Crown, leading all the way and fighting off Mandaloun through the stretch to complete 1 1/4 miles in a very good 2:01.02.
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"I thought everything had to go perfect for him," Baffert said. "We were going to go to the lead and see what happened. But I thought if they challenged him, I didn't know what was going to happen. He made the lead pretty easily for him and the other speed horse (Rock Your World) didn't break. That's the thing about the Derby. You've got to get the trip.
"Going down the backside, he was doing it easy. You could see he was enjoying himself. His ears were forward. Turning for home, they came to him and he dug in and fought hard. It was sort of the same race he ran at Santa Anita when he won the Robert Lewis. They came to him and he fended them all off," he added. "I couldn't believe it at the sixteenth pole that he was actually going to do it. It was just a thrill to watch him do it and fight on. He came back and acted like he handled it pretty well. He wasn't as tired as I thought he'd be."
Baffert has never failed to win the 1 3/16-mile Preakness when he's come to Pimlico with a horse who won the Derby in May. He finished a close second last October with Kentucky Derby winner Authentic, the eventual Breeders' Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year, when the Preakness was delayed until a month after the Derby. Authentic lost the Preakness by a neck to the filly Swiss Skydiver.
The Florida-bred Medina Spirit now has three wins and three seconds in six lifetime starts, earning $2,175,200. The son of Protonico was Baffert's fourth Kentucky Derby winner who had previously finished second in the Santa Anita Derby, following Silver Charm, Real Quiet and Authentic.
"He ran fast all the way around there," Baffert said of the Derby. "I think Medina just said, `Hey boys, I'm a lot better' (than you think). I don't think he's a horse that has to be out there zipping. We've figured him out, and that's what these preps are for. I love it when it works out. These horses make us look smart. But at the end of the day, he's just a good horse."
The Derby capped a huge day for Baffert. He won Derby City Distaff with female sprint champion Gamine to earn his record 220th Grade 1 stakes triumph, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. Baffert was so much in the zone that he also won a grass stakes - not the surface for which he's best known. Co-owned by Baffert's wife, Jill, the 3-year-old Du Jour took the $500,000 American Turf (G2) on the undercard.
Concert Tour, who was withheld from the Derby after losing for the first time in the Arkansas Derby, had a scheduled workout just before 6 a.m. Sunday morning. The son of Street Sense breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60, the fifth-fastest of 17 works at the distance, in preparation for a possible run in the Preakness Stakes.
"Concert Tour, he worked well this morning," Baffert said. "I'll sit down and talk to Mr. West. He wants that horse to develop and not to get in a rush. We know he's a really good horse. We'll see how he is next week."
While Concert Tour also races on or near the lead, Baffert said their running styles would not be a factor in determining whether he runs the Rebel winner. Baffert kept Concert Tour out of the Derby after the colt was third in the Arkansas Derby in his fourth career start after three wins.
"We just want to look at them and see how they are training," he said. "They have to be doing really well [to go to Pimlico]."
Traditionally the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, is held on the third Saturday each May at Baltimore, Maryland's Pimlico Race Course. Sandwiched between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes in the Triple Crown, the Preakness is contested at a distance of 1 3/16 miles, and regularly attracts a field of the best three-year-old Thoroughbred racehorses in North America. A staple on Pimlico's stakes schedule since 1873, the Preakness is often a handicapping challenge for bettors as all of North America's best jockeys and trainers are in action at Pimlico that day. Other key stakes races held Preakness weekend at Pimlico include the Pimlico Special, the Dixie Stakes, the Gallorette Handicap and the Maryland Sprint Handicap.
Predating the Kentucky Derby by two years, the Preakness Stakes was first run in 1873. It got its name from then Maryland Governor Oden Bowie, who dubbed it `The Preakness' in honor of a horse of the same name that won the Dinner Party Stakes on the opening day of the Pimlico track in 1870. The race was originally a mile and a half in length, and the inaugural event saw 7 horses go to the starting gate. The first Preakness was won by My Sheba, who trounced the rest of the field by 10 lengths. That would remain the largest margin of victory in the race until 2004 when Smarty Jones won the event by 11 lengths. To date, Smarty Jones' triumph is the biggest margin of victory in Preakness history.
The Preakness race wasn't an immediate success and moved several times during its early years. In 1890, the Morris Race Course in the Bronx, New York held the race after which there was no race run for the next three years. In 1894, the Preakness was revived at the Gravesend Race Track on Coney Island and remained there for the next 15 years. In 1909 it returned to the Pimlico track in Baltimore where it has been run ever since. In 2009, the parent company of the Pimlico track, Magna Entertainment, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and moving the Preakness was once again considered. The Maryland Legislature quickly approved a plan to buy the track if Magna was unable to find a buyer so for now it looks like the Preakness will remain in Baltimore for the foreseeable future.
Just like the Kentucky Derby is preceded by the Kentucky Oaks on Friday, and the Preakness has a similar tradition with Black-Eyed Susan day. The Black-Eyed Susan was first run in 1919 as the Pimlico Oaks; but the name was changed in 1952 to pay homage to the Maryland state flower. The mile and one-eighth race for three-year-old fillies has been a Grade II event since 1976. Gates for the Black-Eyed Susan day open at 10 AM on Friday, May 17th with a full day of racing action.
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