Preakness InfieldFest canceled, new date for race still being determined

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The crowd gets hyped up for a musical performance at the 2019 Preakness InfieldFest. Photo courtesy of Stephen Bondio.

With the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s still not known when the Preakness Stakes will run at Pimlico Race Course. But there will officially be no InfieldFest this year, the Stronach Group announced today.

Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced today the Maryland National Guard is going to build a drive-thru testing site on the racetrack’s parking lot. The site will also provide other health resources during the city’s response to COVID-19.

Rapper DaBaby and EDM artist Marshmello were two of the headliners scheduled to perform at the concert, which draws thousands to the track’s infield during the running of the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

Quinn XCII, Shaquille O’Neal (yep, the basketball legend), Two Friends, DJ Pauly D (of “Jersey Shore” fame) and producer GATTÜSO were also scheduled to perform.

“This was a difficult decision but we are confident that it was the right one,” the Stronach Group said in a statement. “We look forward to celebrating InfieldFest 2021 next year.”

Ticket holders have the option of receiving a full refund, transferring the ticket to next year’s festival or getting a seat in the stands to watch the race.

As for the Preakness, Stronach said it is exploring all options for a new date.

“Our first priority in these difficult times is the health and well-being of our customers, our vendors, our employees and the horses we all love,” the company said in a statement. “A decision will be made on a new date for Preakness 145 and will take into consideration all of the recommended best practices from local and governmental health authorities to protect our community.”

The Kentucky Derby, originally scheduled for May 2, has already been postponed to Sept. 5. According to host track Churchill Downs, the new date was chosen because of “the limited number of other sporting events being held that weekend and the decision was also based on the availability of lodging in the Louisville area to accommodate visitors to the Derby.”

Traditionally, the Preakness is two weeks after the Derby. The New York Racing Association, host of the Triple Crown’s final leg, the Belmont Stakes, said last month it is still determining the best course of action for that race. As of this writing, the Belmont is still scheduled for June 6.

During a press conference on March 17, Gov. Larry Hogan said his office was in talks with Stronach to move the race to “sometime in September.”

However, the Maryland Jockey Club, which is owned by Stronach, signaled a willingness at the time to hold the race closer to its originally scheduled date of May 16.

“While we are mindful of the challenges these times present, we also know that events like the Preakness Stakes can help restore our sense of place and economic well-being to our communities and state,” the Maryland Jockey Club said then.

Around mid-March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had advised people to avoid gatherings with more than 50 people. That number has since been reduced to 10.

Earlier this week, Hogan issued a “stay at home” order to Marylanders, urging them to remain inside unless they have to leave for an essential reason–such as getting food and medicine or going to a medical appointment–or to work at an essential job. The order is in effect as long as there is a state of emergency to respond to the pandemic.

A reshuffled order for the Triple Crown would not be unprecedented. According to a history of the race, the Preakness has been held before the Derby 11 times in its history, and there are two instances when both races were held on the same day. The traditional alignment of Kentucky Derby to Preakness Stakes to Belmont Stakes didn’t come about until the 1930s.

Brandon Weigel


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