Preakness Stakes to be run Oct. 3, moving horse race out of May for first time since WWII

Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Horse Racing

BALTIMORE -- The 145th Preakness Stakes will be run Oct. 3, the first time since the end of World War II that Maryland's most attended annual sporting event will be held outside May.

Gov. Larry Hogan and 1/ST Chair and President Belinda Stronach announced the new date Saturday during an NBC broadcast about an hour before the originally scheduled post time for the Preakness. Stronach gave a brief introduction before Hogan made the official announcement at the end of an hour-long special replaying American Pharoah's Preakness win in 2015.

"Under normal circumstances, I would have stood today at Pimlico Race Course with Ms. Stronach to present the Woodlawn Vase to the winner of the 145th Preakness Stakes. But, as we all know, these are not ordinary circumstances," Hogan said. "I am delighted that we were successful in working with 1/ST, the Maryland Jockey Club and all who are connected to Maryland's Thoroughbred racing industry to set the new date of October 3."

Baltimore Major Bernard C. "Jack" Young said: "I would have loved nothing more today than to crown a new Preakness winner and present the famed Woodlawn Vase along with Ms. Stronach and Governor Hogan. But as we all know, Baltimore City is simply not ready to reopen at this time. Working to preserve this Baltimore City treasure has been one of my proudest achievements as mayor. I am grateful to all parties that we were able to set a new date in the future when it will be safe for this historic event to take place."

Hogan and The Maryland Jockey Club announced in mid-March that the Preakness would be postponed, shortly after Churchill Downs Inc. moved the Kentucky Derby from May 2 to Sept. 5 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hogan originally said he hoped to find a new date in September, but that proved incompatible with NBC's broadcast schedule, which also has been scrambled by the virus. Organizers also considered dates in July and August before settling on October.

"We look forward to presenting the 145th Preakness Stakes in a prime spot on our fall sports schedule," NBC Sports president of programming Jon Miller, said in a statement. "We can't wait to embrace racing at Pimlico when the leaves are changing colors."


The order of the Triple Crown series remains a mystery because the New York Racing Association has yet to announce plans for a postponed Belmont Stakes, currently still on the calendar for June 6. Even if the Belmont is moved, as many industry observers expect, it could be the first leg of the series instead of the third. The race could also be run at a distance shorter than its typical 1 1/2 miles, which presents a unique endurance test for 3-year-old thoroughbreds.

In such a scenario, a Triple Crown winner could be anointed in Baltimore for the first time in history.

"We don't know where we're going to be in October with respect to public gatherings, if it will be spectator-free or not ... but obviously, if there's a Triple Crown on the line, it will be a very big day," said Alan Foreman, general counsel for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association.

"It will be different, weird, but that's where everybody's at with everyday life right now," NBC analyst Randy Moss said. "I hope everyone realizes that this is a one-off and not to get stuck too far in the weeds on changes to the Triple Crown."


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