The steady rain that has pounded Pimlico for the past few days forced track officials to move four of the five scheduled turf races to the dirt track on Saturday, heavily inflating the number of pre-race scratches.
The decision was made out of concern for the safety of the horses, who lose traction when the turf gets too saturated.
The main track also is sloppy, but it has been sealed and is expected to be in decent shape for the Preakness if forecasts of diminishing rainfall this afternoon are correct.
The original 12-horse field for the second race on the 14-race Preakness program was the first to be affected, with just four horses actually running.
In all, 27 horses have been scratched from the five races scheduled for turf. The move, announced ahead of the first race of the day, was expected to prompt a lot of trainers to scratch their horses, either for competitive or safety concerns.
The only turf race remaining is the ninth race of the day — the $150,000 guaranteed Gallorette Stakes.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.