The Preakness Stakes will return to the third Saturday in May this year and ticket information will be released shortly, the Maryland Jockey Club said Thursday in announcing its spring meet at Pimlico Race Course.
Jockey Club officials declined to comment on their plans for a Preakness crowd after Gov. Larry Hogan announced earlier this week he would ease COVID-19 restrictions at the state’s racetracks and ballparks. But the announcement seemed to guarantee the state’s signature race will be run before fans on May 15.
The race, which drew a crowd of 131,256 in 2019, is the most attended annual sporting event in Maryland.
“The Preakness Stakes returning to its rightful place on the arcing calendar is another sign of our recovery,” Hogan wrote on Twitter. “I look forward to presenting the Woodlawn Vase [to the winner] on May 15.”
The 2020 Preakness was postponed to Oct. 3 and was run with no spectators beyond a few connections to the competing horses. It served as the last leg of the Triple Crown series but will return to its traditional spot as the middle jewel this year.
The news of a more traditional Preakness was welcomed by a state racing industry that has endured a year of revenue crunches and schedule changes because of the pandemic.
“There’s symbolic power in this sense of returning to normalcy,” said Alan Foreman, general counsel for the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. “I can’t tell you that anybody believed going into the first of the year that we were going to have a Preakness with fans. I don’t think anybody thought it was going to be terribly different from last October. Nobody knew whether we would run on the normal Triple Crown schedule. But the country is recovering.”
Foreman said he doesn’t expect the event to return all the way to normal until 2022. It’s not clear what the capacity for the race would be under the governor’s recent order, and it’s not clear if the Jockey Club’s parent company, The Stronach Group, is planning anything resembling the traditional infield festival.
The Jockey Club also announced that the Black-Eyed Susan, which was run on the Preakness undercard last year, will resume its traditional place as the Friday headliner on May 14.
The spring meet at Pimlico will begin May 7 and conclude with a Memorial Day program on May 31. The Jockey Club is currently hosting three racing cards per week at Laurel Park with attendance capped at 250.