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The finish to this year’s Preakness (Patrick Smith (Getty Images))


NYRA Not on Board with Move

Turf Talk Ed – It is usually costly to mess with tradition in horseracing. This move will surely devalue one of the hardest feats to achieve in racing, the American Triple Crown. 1/ST racing have said safety of horses comes before tradition. That is correct and is why Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike avoided the Preakness in 2022. The onus is on the trainer and owners to keep their horse safe if not ready in time to take in the Preakness. A better way of putting it, for the good of horseracing, would be, “Tradition comes before the needs of 1/ST Racing”.
By Bill Finley (TDN)
1/ST Racing & Gaming is ready to shake up the Triple Crown.
The company, which operates Pimlico Race Course, has confirmed to the TDN that it is giving strong consideration to moving the date of the GI Preakness S. so that it is run four weeks after the GI Kentucky Derby.
“We have discussed it internally and believe it’s in the best interests of horses and horse safety to move the race four weeks after the Kentucky Derby,” said Aidan Butler, Chief Executive Officer of 1/ST Racing & Gaming. “This would give horses more time to recover between races to be able to run in the Preakness. Horse safety is more important than tradition. NYRA is aware and considering how this would impact the Belmont. Stay tuned.”
Butler said there would be no further comment at this time.
Should the date of the Preakness get changed, the next move will be up to NYRA, which hosts the GI Belmont. If the Preakness is moved to four weeks after the Derby that would mean that, unless NYRA also shifts the date of the Belmont, the Belmont would be run just one week after the Preakness. That may be exactly what happens.
“NYRA has concerns about fundamental changes to the structure of the Triple Crown. We have no plans to move the date of the Belmont Stakes,” said NYRA spokesperson Pat McKenna.
The current structure of the Triple Crown works far better for the Belmont than it does for the Preakness. With five weeks between the Derby and Belmont, a number of trainers pass the Preakness and go next in the Belmont.
Traditionally, the Triple Crown is run over a five-week period, with two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness and three weeks between the Preakness and the Belmont. While that may be a long-standing tradition, it has clearly become an impediment to drawing horses to the Preakness because modern trainers are very reluctant to run their horses back within two weeks. In 2022, Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike (Keen Ice) skipped the Preakness and waited for the Belmont. This year, Kentucky Derby winner Mage (Good Magic) was the only horse from the Derby to run back in the Preakness.

These developments have led to added support for changing the spacing of the races. Just last month, Tom Rooney, the president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, penned an editorial calling for the races be spread further apart. “The time has come in Thoroughbred racing for our own change, to modernize the timeline of the Triple Crown,” he wrote.


Turf Talk ed: There was mixed reaction to the news in the comments section below the article, although most agreed it would not be able to be called The Triple Crown if the two gaps between the three races were stretched out.

Two of the comments opposed to the move summed it up well:

Comment 1: (Badgerpluto) Absolutely no foundation for saying this will improve horse safety. It has been perfectly safe for horses to run in the Derby and Preakness for more than a century. 1/ST is willing to destroy the Triple Crown in the mistaken belief they’ll do better business on Preakness Day. Stretch the Derby-Preakness gap to four weeks and the public will have lost interest. 

Comment 2: (Tinky)

There is a lot to say about this, but I’ll keep it brief.

It is a glaring example of the damage inflicted by the American racing industry’s greatest, historical mistake, namely the failure to create a centralized oversight body, such as those found in every other major sport. How absurd that one of the three ‘owners’ of the Triple Crown races might consider forcing the hands of the others with a unilateral decision! Only in the racing game might something so stupid happen, yet it would be entirely consistent with previous deep, self-inflicted wounds, such as allowing the iconic racetracks Hialeah, Hollywood, and Arlington, to disappear.