The Maryland Jockey Club released its 2011 Pimlico spring stakes schedule today and the eight-week meet will feature 22 stakes races for purses of $2.9 million.
The schedule, released after reaching agreement with both the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and Maryland Horse Breeders Association, still needs approval from the Maryland Racing Commission, which will hold its monthly meeting at Laurel Park on Feb. 15.
The headline event of the meet that begins April 1 is the 136th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes, a Grade I race that is the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, on May 21. Tickets for the event went on sale Tuesday.
The 29-day meeting at the historic Baltimore track will conclude on Preakness day.
Preakness weekend features 16 stakes races for nearly $2.5 million. The May 20 card features seven stakes races, six for fillies and mares, highlighted by the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for three-year-old fillies. The purse for the Black-Eyed Susan was increased to $250,000. Preakness day will have nine added money races, including six graded events, and features the return of the Grade III Allaire duPont Distaff, which was put on a one-year hiatus due to a purse shortage a year ago.
"Having a strong stakes schedule during the Pimlico meet is vital for our success," Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said in a release. "The Preakness weekend experience is strengthened with the return of the Distaff and the purse increase for the Black-Eyed Susan. We are working hard to increase the profile of the entire week, not just focusing on the third Saturday in May."
First post for 26 days of the meeting will be 1:10 p.m. except for the following days: Preakness (10:45 a.m.), Black-Eyed Susan (12:15 p.m.) and Kentucky Derby (May 7, 12:45 p.m.)
The current Laurel Park winter meeting will conclude its 12-week run on March 26.