Officials considering changes to Preakness security

Pimlico officials still are consulting with federal and local law enforcement agencies on revised security measures for the Preakness.

Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas said he initiated a series of meetings with those groups April 16, the day after two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 260. He said he has two meetings scheduled for this weekend — he would not reveal the other parties — and could announce any changes to Preakness policies as early as next week. This year's Preakness is May 18.


Officials at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., where the Kentucky Derby will be run May 4, announced a new ban on backpacks like the ones used to hold the pressure-cooker bombs in Boston.

"We're still reviewing all of our policies and procedures," Chuckas said Thursday. "As opposed to revealing our changes piecemeal, we'll have an all-encompassing announcement of anything new we decide to do."


Chuckas said he and officials from many other agencies are reviewing every facet of the event, which last year drew more than 120,000 fans and includes infield concerts in addition to racing.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have acknowledged working on many large-scale events such as the Super Bowl, and Chuckas said the procedures for protecting Preakness crowds are similar to those used at NFL games. He said the Jockey Club hires the same private firm that works the Super Bowl, and it provides many of the workers who currently search all Preakness-goers' backpacks and coolers at Pimlico's entrances.

Most of the contraband confiscated in those searches, Chuckas said, is alcohol.

Officials at Belmont Park, which hosts the third leg of the Triple Crown, also are still evaluating whether to tweak security for the June 8 event.

"As the Belmont Stakes approaches, analysis of threat assessments at the time will dictate what enhancements, if any, are necessary," said Sidney Anthony, the New York Racing Association's vice president of security, in a statement.