Officials for the company that owns Pimlico Race Course said that there have been ongoing discussions about moving the Preakness from Saturday to Sunday in the near future, possibly as soon as next year.

Officials for the company that owns Pimlico Race Course said that there have been ongoing discussions about moving the Preakness from Saturday to Sunday in the near future, possibly as soon as next year.

Tim Ritvo, the chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, said he met with some board members Wednesday before the draw for Saturday's race to discuss the idea, but that more substantive talks will start after the 2015 champion is crowned.

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"We throw these [ideas] around, we look at the numbers and we say, 'Could we be more productive on a Saturday-Sunday, would it outperform a Friday [and Saturday],' and we believe it will," Ritvo said.

Ritvo said it will be up to members of Stronach's board of directors, as well as Jockey Club general manager Sal Sinatra and Jockey Club director of racing Georganne Hale.

It might come down to Ritvo, who two years ago moved the Florida Derby to Sunday but ran into issues with race day falling on Easter or Palm Sunday when there is no racing in New York and, as a result, no betting via simulcast.

"I am the chief operating officer, so the decision a lot of times falls on me," said Ritvo, who has been in his position for six years. "If I'm really pushing hard for something, we can get our way and make it happen."

Mike Rogers, president of the Stronach Group, recalled when he and Ritvo first proposed the idea of moving the Florida Derby to Sunday a couple of years ago, the initial reaction from Florida horsemen was mixed.

"I said, 'The French Derby's on Sunday, the Queen's Plate is on Sunday, the Arc de Triomphe is on Sunday and they said, 'Well this is the United States,'" Rogers said Wednesday. "I said, 'The Haskell is on Sunday.' When you take the weekend as a whole, we did better than the previous year."

A spokesman for Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declined comment.

It didn't come as a surprise that old-time American horsemen couldn't embrace the idea immediately. The Preakness has been run on a Saturday continuously since 1931. Prior to that, it ran on nearly every day but Sunday.

"In horse racing, if you say Sunday, they think you're on another planet," Rogers said. "If you go to other parts of the world, it's not unusual to have a big race on the Sunday. People say [the Kentucky Derby] is the first Saturday in May. I say, 'It's Super Bowl Sunday. Big events happen on Sunday.'"

Longtime Maryland horseman John McDaniel said that he would be willing to try it.

"I don't see any particular downside," said McDaniel, who owns the Hickory Ridge Farm in Howard County and has been a member of the Maryland Racing Commission for nearly three decades. "You have less competition from other sports and other activities."

McDaniel said he understands how traditionalists might balk at the idea — though the Preakness was once run Sundays — but "we've got to redo the model and create a new opportunity. … Sunday is more of a family day and you might get younger people come out, like they do in Europe."

One of those traditionalists said he doesn't believe it will make a big difference.

"Probably the most significant thing is if they move to the following Saturday — three weeks out — and then move the Belmont to the Fourth of July or something," Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "If it isn't broke, don't fix it."

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As it often happens with sports events such as the Preakness, it could come down to what its titleholder wants. Ritvo said that the current contract with NBC ends after this year.

Like a champion horse running down the competition on the backstretch, the possibility of moving the Preakness appears to be gathering steam. At least in Ritvo's eyes.

Asked what the odds would be of it moving as soon as next year, Ritvo said, "It's a 2-1 shot, it looks good. It's something that we'll definitely have discussion on immediately after this Preakness."

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