BALTIMORE - Maryland Jockey Club officials are giving serious consideration to eventually moving the Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, from Pimlico Race Course to what would be a refurbished Laurel Park and to holding the race on a Sunday for the first time.
Timothy Ritvo, chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, which operates Pimlico, said there is a "real good possibility" that the Preakness would be moved to Sunday as early as next year to increase business.
Sal Sinatra, vice president of the Stronach Group, said an extensive renovation of Laurel Park — near Laurel, Md., between Baltimore and Washington — was being contemplated in anticipation of shifting the Preakness.
"This building is old," said Sinatra, who met with reporters midway through Saturday's racing card.
"You can't just add suites. It's almost a rebuild here. Laurel is a pretty healthy building."
As he spoke, parts of the track were without running water and working toilets. The problem was attributed to a broken pipe about 2 miles from the crowded facility.
The Preakness has been run continuously on a Saturday since 1931. It has been preceded by the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, the companion race for 3-year-old fillies. That race would shift to Saturday. The timing may be right because the contract with NBC to televise the Preakness is ending.
Ritvo noted that two of the major races of the summer, the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., and the Pacific Classic, at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club near San Diego, are contested on Sundays and generate large wagering handles.
An eye on Belmont
Todd Pletcher, the winner of seven Eclipse Awards as the leading trainer in North America, was conspicuous in his absence from the Preakness. He did not have a starter for the fourth consecutive year.
Skipping the middle leg of the Triple Crown should leave Pletcher with a strong hand for the Belmont Stakes on June 6. His horses could include Materiality and Carpe Diem, who finished sixth and 10th in the Kentucky Derby, and Madefromlucky, the winner of the Peter Pan Stakes. Pletcher said he may add to that group.
Materiality, who was perfect through his first three races before he started poorly in the Derby, may be Pletcher's best hope.
"You always wonder what might have been if he broke a little better," Pletcher said. "He passed 11 horses in the last quarter of a mile, so that's encouraging."
• A number of starters that ran behind in the Kentucky Derby will look to redeem themselves in 147th Belmont Stakes. These include Keen Ice (seventh), Mubtaahij (eighth) and Frammento (11th).