Preakness Stakes postponed due to COVID-19, new date to be determined

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The 145th Preakness Stakes, which was set for Saturday, May 16 at Pimlico Race Course, will run at a later date due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The new date will be determined based on “best practices from local and governmental health authorities to protect our community,” according to the Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico and several other tracks around the country.

InfieldFest, which happens during and in the middle of the Preakness, has been canceled. Musician and DJ Marshmello was set to headline.

On March 17, the Kentucky Derby was moved from May 2 to September 5, marking only the third time in history that the race hasn’t been run during the month of May.

“We believe that moving our iconic event to Labor Day Weekend this year will enable our country to have time to contain the spread of coronavirus,” Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said. “This will also provide our guests more time to reschedule their travel and hotel arrangements so they can attend.”

The Preakness typically follows the Kentucky Derby as the second leg of the Triple Crown. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) is exploring a new date for the Belmont Stakes, the final Triple Crown race, as well.

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend American life, decisions about large-scale public events must prioritize public health and safety above all else,” the NYRA said in a statement. “NYRA will deliver an announcement only when that process has concluded to the satisfaction of state and local health departments. The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution with wide-reaching economic impact. We look forward to its 152nd edition in 2020.”

If the Triple Crown races were to maintain their typical spacing, the Preakness would fall on September 19 with the Belmont on October 10.

The majority of U.S. race tracks have halted live racing, though a select few tracks like Gulfstream and Oaklawn are still racing. On April 2, Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, Calif. announced they would temporarily close live racing due to COVID-19. Aqueduct Racetrack in New York has been turned into a temporary field hospital.

Last week, Santa Anita shut down all live racing by order from the Los Angeles County Health Department. However, the track, as well as fans, have continuously asked the government to allow racing to resume, including through a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times put out by Belinda Stronach, CEO of The Stronach Group, which also owns Santa Anita Park.

According Stronach, over 1700 horses live at Santa Anita and require daily care, exercise and medical attention. “Racehorses are conditioned athletes and standing in a stall without daily exercise is detrimental to their health, safety and welfare,” Stronach added.