Officials for the Preakness Stakes say they are considering moving the second Triple Crown race to four weeks after the Kentucky Derby — instead of two weeks later — in a shift that would change the timing that has been in place for decades.
Aidan Butler, CEO of 1/ST Racing, which owns and runs Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore where the Preakness is run, said it’s necessary to take a close look at making changes.
“Discussion around spacing out the schedule of the Triple Crown is nothing new, and we believe the time has come to advance those discussions to the next step,” Butler said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Friday. “Allowing additional time between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes would give horses a greater opportunity to prepare and be ready between the Derby and the second leg of the Triple Crown.”
Butler, who floated the possibility most recently during an interview with Thoroughbred Daily News this week, acknowledged moving the Preakness would have implications around the industry.
“We look forward to engaging with all stakeholders to work through questions and concerns,” Butler said. “The future of the Triple Crown is best decided collectively, but we are committed to seeing this conversation through to a positive result.”
Other stakeholders are not willing to make a change right now.
The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes have been run over a span of five weeks beginning with the first Saturday in May since 1969, with the exception of 2020 when the races happened out of order because of the pandemic.
A spokesman for Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Derby, said the track had no comment.
New York Racing Association vice president of communications Pat McKenna said the organization, which runs the Belmont Stakes, “has concerns about fundamental changes to the structure of the Triple Crown.”
“We have no plans to move the date of the Belmont Stakes,” McKenna said in an email to the AP.
A change was debated years ago during a lengthy drought without a Triple Crown champion, but that quieted down after American Pharoah won all three races in 2015 and then Justify following suit in 2018.
Horse deaths this spring at Churchill Downs, which caused the track to suspend operations to investigate possible causes, have led to larger conversations around the sport. The federally mandated Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority recently went into place to oversee track safety, medication and doping and standardize the industry around the U.S.