The Latest: Preakness to be run on muddy track
BALTIMORE (AP) The Latest on the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course (all times local):
A steady rain pelted Pimilco Race Course late Saturday afternoon, meaning the Preakness would be run on a messy track for a second straight year.
In spite of the rain, officials estimated the crowd to be 134,000 – a new Preakness record.
Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist was the 3-5 betting favorite less than one hour before the race was slated to begin.
The condition of the track was listed as muddy for the Preakness, the 13th race of the day.
In 2015, American Pharoah won the second jewel of the Triple Crown in a driving storm.
On the undercard Saturday, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert won a second 3-year-old stakes when American Freedom earned a gutty victory in the $100,000 Sir Barton. Baffert also won $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes.
Takeover Target closed furiously to beat Ring Weekend by a neck in the $250,000 Dixie Stakes, the richest event on the Preakness undercard.
One year after winning the Preakness on their way to a Triple Crown sweep with American Pharoah, Zayat Stables and trainer Bob Baffert returned to capture the $100,000 Chick Lang Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters with Justin Squared.
The gray colt improved to 3 for 3 with a front-running victory. The 4-5 favorite, ridden by Martin Pedroza, held off a late rally from Counterforce by two lengths.
Also on the Preakness undercard, .Mizz Money pulled out a thriller in the $150,000 Gallorette Stakes for fillies and mares on the turf.
The gray 4-year-old prevailed by a head over Vielsalm with Heath only a nose back in third.
The soggy weather at Pimilco Race Course did little to deter the beer-drinking masses from crowding the infield on Preakness Day.
About the only change was the usual attire of the patrons.
Forget tank tops and flip flops. Jackets and boots were the clothing items of choice on the infield during a wet, chilly day.
There was plenty of alcohol, of course, but the 55 degree temperatures and intermittent rain took some of the edge off Baltimore's biggest party of the year.
Wearing boots caked with mud, 21-year-old Taylor Cook of Towson appeared undaunted by the environment.
''I'd rather have this than a sunburn,'' she said.
It rained early, stopped, then resumed around 2:30. But the infield was jammed and Sal Sinatra, president and CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club, said betting was up compared to last year.
''They're still coming in, and people are looking for tickets,'' he said. ''I know we're up a couple million, handle-wise. They tell me the numbers are going to be strong.''
The effort to permanently move the Preakness from Baltimore to Laurel has subsided.
Sal Sinatra, President and CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club, pulled back his assertion last year that the race would be better off at nearby Laurel Park.
Speaking at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday hours before the Preakness, Sinatra said, ''Once you come here and live through one Preakness, you feel it. You feel the history, you feel the energy. You see what the kids were doing out (in the field) and you're going to try every which way to keep it here.''
Sinatra said a study is under way to find out the best way to improve Pimlico, which opened in 1870. The results should be available in a year to a year and a half.
''It looks like it's going to almost have to be a total rebuild,'' Sinatra said, adding that the Preakness might have to move temporarily to Laurel while construction is under way.
The threatening clouds overhead let everyone know that the rain that drenched Pimlico earlier in the day would inevitably return.
And so it did, shortly before the 8th race on Preakness Day.
It rained in Baltimore overnight and well into the morning before letting up shortly before noon. Not only did that benefit those on the infield, but it allowed the condition of the track to improve from sloppy to muddy.
A Sloppy racing strip is one that is saturated with water and has standing water visible. A muddy track is wet with no standing water, because it has seeped down into the base.
Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse around four hours before the scheduled post time for the Preakness.
Before American Pharoah won last year's Preakness on a sloppy track, the event hadn't been run on sloppy or muddy terrain since 1983.
Nyquist enters the Preakness with an 8-0 record. Seven of those races were on a fast track; the other was on a good track.
Always Sunshine rallied to win the $150,000 Maryland Sprint, the first stakes race on the Preakness undercard.
The 4-year-old colt trained by Ned Allard sat third as Cinco Charlie set the pace. Always Sunshine and jockey Frankie Pennington took charge in mid-stretch, beating All Star Red by 2 1/2 lengths.
It was the second straight win-the fifth in 11 races overall-for Always Sunshine. He paid $5.80 to win.
Later on the card, Marengo Road pulled a 15-1 upset in the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes for 3-year-olds on a rain-soaked turf course listed as good.
The colt, trained by Michael Trombetta, was overlooked in wagering despite winning the Miracle Wood Stakes at Laurel.
Marengo Road and jockey Julian Pimentel held off a late charge from Aquaphobia, paying $33.80 to win.
Ten years after Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro broke down at the start of the Preakness, the owners of the ill-fated colt have had another horse die on a damp, rainy Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.
In a tragic start to Preakness day, two horses died and a jockey broke his collarbone in the first four races.
Pramedya broke down around the turn in the fourth race, tumbled to the turf as jockey Daniel Centeno was thrown to the ground. Pimlico racing officials said the 4-year-old filly owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson's Lael Stables was euthanized on the track after breaking her left front cannon bone.
In 2006, Barbaro shattered bones in his right hind leg just after the start of the Preakness, survived surgery but developed laminitis and was euthanized in January, 2007.
Pramedya was bred and owned by the Jacksons.
Centeno was driven off in ambulance. Officials said he broke his right collarbone.
In the opening race, Homeboykris collapsed and died after his victory and having his picture taken in the winner's circle. Track officials believe the 9-year-old gelding suffered cardiovascular collapse.
The horse is being taken to New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania for an autopsy. It's the same animal hospital Barbaro was taken to after his injuries.
Homeboykris won the Champagne Stakes in 2009, and a year later finished 16th in the Kentucky Derby. He had just won his 14th race in 63 career starts.
Later Saturday, Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist takes on 10 rivals in the Preakness Stakes.