BALTIMORE (AP) — The Latest on the Preakness (all times local):
Kentucky Derby winner Country House isn’t in the Preakness, but there are plenty of reminders of him on race day at Pimlico.
Country House Derby winner T-shirts are still full price at $25 in souvenir stands despite a cough leading to the horse being removed from consideration for the Preakness days after his big victory. Trainer Bill Mott told The Associated Press by phone that Country House was back at the barn this week at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. He was checked out at an equine hospital but won’t run in the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 8.
A half-sister of Country House, 4-year-old filly Mitchell Road, romped to a 2¼-length victory in the $150,000 Gallorette Stakes on the Preakness undercard. Mitchell Road, like Country House, is trained by Mott and owned by Maury Shields and Guinness McFadden.
It’s the first time since 1996 the Preakness will be run without the Kentucky Derby winner.
Temperatures are in the upper 70s and the sun is shining in Baltimore, which means the beer is flowing at Pimlico Race Course on Preakness Day.
The same cannot be said for the water.
Long lines are forming at nearly all of the Ladies Rooms, the result of a water main break that has shut down many of the toilets.
Meanwhile, the crowd has filled nicely on the infield after a slow start. Many of the patrons have paid $89 to drink beer, listen to bands and DJs and people watch.
The debate about keeping the Preakness at aging Pimlico Race Course or moving it to fresher Laurel Park is ongoing.
The current emphasis is providing the fans at Old Hilltop a good time on Preakness Day.
Tim Ritvo, the Chief Operating Officer of the Stronach Group, which owns the track, says it will keep working with the city and the state on options because people deserve “a great race like this. So nothing is final until it’s final.”
The Stronach Group says the Preakness will stay at Pimlico at least through next year. A plane flying above the race course carried a sign that implored Stronach to keep the Preakness in Baltimore.
With a large section of the grandstand shut down and water pipes bursting seemingly on a daily basis, the 149-year-old track is struggling to provide the best experience for fans.
Water pressure was an issue, but Ritvo offered assurance that fans could rest easy in the crumbling facility, saying “we’re positive it’s safe.”
The music is blaring, the beer is flowing and the crowd in the infield at Pimlico Race Course for the Preakness is ... smaller than usual.
Maybe it’s the $89 price tag for tickets, and in some cases, an additional $30 charge. It could be for the first time since 1996 there is no Kentucky Derby winner in the Preakness and thus no chance for a Triple Crown.
It’s certainly not the weather. Those who have assembled more than six hours before the big race are enjoying 72 degree temperatures under a cloudy sky.
It has been a decade since fans could bring their own beer into the infield. Now it costs 20 bucks for a decent-sized mug with unlimited refills.
For the first time in years, it’s an easy walk around the infield. Despite the many tents in place, there’s still plenty of room to set up blankets.
There are countless concession stands — and nearly as many vendors as patrons. As far as seeing an actual horse, the best shot for fans to an opening near the fence at the far turn.
Bob Baffert-trained Improbable remains the favorite for the Preakness.
Improbable is 3-1 to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown after being installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. He was also the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, finished fifth and was placed fourth after Maximum Security was disqualified.
War of Will, who was initially the second choice in wagering at 4-1, was 6-1 as of late Saturday morning. Bourbon War, who didn’t run in the Derby, has been bet down from 12-1 to 9-2.
Last-minute addition Everfast, who opened 50-1, is no longer the longest shot on the board; he is now 22-1. The longest shot now is 26-1 Market King, who is trained by six-time Preakness winner D. Wayne Lukas.
Odds will continue to fluctuate until post time at 6:48 p.m.
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