Weather is a hot topic for Preakness, Pimlico

Although there’s only a 4% chance of rain in Baltimore on May 21, the Preakness Stakes (G1) might not avoid Mother Nature’s wrath.

Forecasts call for temperatures in the mid-90s at Pimlico Racecourse for Saturday’s Preakness and the low 90s on May 20 for Black-Eyed Susan Day, creating the potential for scorching conditions for equine athletes on the racetrack and fans that will jam the aging facility.

According to weather.com As of noon May 18, the high in Baltimore on Saturday will be 96 degrees, which, coupled with 49% humidity, will create a heat index of nearly 105 degrees. Their Friday forecast calls for a high of 92 degrees with 56% humidity.

The National Weather Service lists a high of 94 on Saturday and 89 on Friday.

Photo: Skip Dickstein

Clouds reflect off the pavilion window at Pimlico Racecourse

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“Hopefully it’s to our advantage,” said Saffie Joseph Jr., who coaches the Florida-based Preakness starter. Skippy Longstocking a 20-1 shot in the morning line that started his career in wet racing Gulfstream Park in Florida last summer. “He’s used to the heat and has raced on really hot days. That’s common in Florida. We can use any breaks we can get on Saturday.”

Simplification a 6-1 shot in the Preakness coached by Antonio Sano, has the added experience of being a son of Florida Not this time who has been exposed to heat and humidity for much of his life as a 3-year-old.

“He was born and raised in Florida,” said Sano’s son and assistant coach Alessandro. “Since he was a baby he has been exposed to the sun and hot days. He ran in hot weather in Gulfstream in the summer. He broke his young daughter on a very hot day in Gulfstream so he shouldn’t be bothered by it Running in those kinds of temperatures isn’t ideal for anyone, but at least knowing that our horse performed successfully in those kinds of weather gives us a bit more confidence.

Tim Yakteen, who trains in California Armagnac is a veteran of hot days on the West Coast and said proper hydration will be vital given the potentially oppressive conditions.

“You need to make sure your horse is hydrated and provide him with a nice climate by watering him down and keeping him moist. Those are the logical things,” he said. “There’s no magic trick. It all boils down to how each horse performs in the weather, which you might be able to see in their past performance.”

Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas said he was unsure of the impact of the weather on his filly, winner of Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1). secret oath in the Preakness.

“We’ll have to see,” he said. “She’s never raced in this kind of heat before, but we’ll try to get through it. It’ll be the same for everyone,” he said.

Lukas said the heat is usually harsher on horses who tend to get excited before their races.

“It will affect all of our horses, but I will say it may affect some more than others, especially those who let their adrenaline base get a little high,” he said. “Depending on the humidity, it might have a bit of an impact on the oxygen supply.”

Almost all of Preakness’ nine starters spent their winters in warmer southern or western climes, with the only exception being 7-2 second pick Early voting . The Wood Memorial Stakes runner-up presented by Resorts World Casino (G2) trained by Chad Brown wintered in cold New York and his three career starts were at Aqueduct Racecourse in December, February and April.

“I can’t predict how this will affect early voting,” Brown said. “All you can do is keep the horses hydrated and fresh with water and the like. It’s unfortunate, especially for the horses, to have such a prestigious race and a great weekend for everyone. the world and having to deal with such oppressive conditions. We just have to hold out hope that the predictions are wrong.”

Like Florida and California riders, 1/ST Racing officials are used to hot, humid days. In addition to owning the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico and laurel park1/ST Racing’s track network includes Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Park in California.

“We encounter this situation at all of our tracks. We race regularly with temperatures like this in Florida and occasionally during the fall meet at Santa Anita Park we will have a day like this,” said said Craig Fravel, CEO of 1/ ST Racing, part of the Stronach Group. “We monitor all the conditions. We make sure we have enough water nearby to treat the horses if they have heat issues. So it’s really all about preparation.”

Breeders' Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel at Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2) on November 1, 2019 Santa Anita in Arcadia, Ca.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

Craig Fravel

While Fravel hopes the forecast turns out to be wrong, having several days to prepare for it gives Pimlico workers and managers time to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

“We will check with all relevant authorities for emergency generators and air conditioning,” he said. “There will be plenty of water around and places where people can be in the shade. There will be plenty of room inside the building if they need to be inside rather than outside. sun.”

While the infield clubhouse and chalets are either air-conditioned or shaded from the sun, potential hotspots are the infield, where there will be an Infield Fest featuring electronic artists Marshmello, The Chainsmokers, DJ Frank Walker and rapper Moneybagg Yo, and the rows of uncovered apron seats that basically stretch from the three-sixteenths post to the start of the first corner.

In 2019, the extreme heat in Monmouth Park Haskell Day forced the track to shorten the map and suspend racing for nearly five hours and move the tee time for Grade 1 stakes to 8:12 p.m. But Fravel said he doesn’t anticipate any changes to a 14-race card that will begin. at 10:30 a.m. when the temperatures will be a little cooler.

Monmouth Park, misters, cooling, fans, heat
Photo: Chad B. Harmon

“I don’t think so based on what we know,” Fravel said of possibly delaying the card and the Preakness, which is slated for a 7:01 p.m. release time with national television coverage on NBC.

While it’s certainly possible that a different weather system will brighten the weekend’s outlook, Fravel, who grew up in Baltimore, hopes Maryland residents can adapt to the conditions.

“I think people in Baltimore are used to temperatures around 90 degrees,” he said.

Jessica C. Bell