Month Ahead: May 2012
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
The month of May is Thoroughbred racings time to shine! The Kentucky Derby on May 5th and Preakness Stakes May on 18th will dominate the racing conversation and bring some welcome attention to racing from the major TV networks and news outlets. If you are a racing fan, you love the month of May.
The first two legs of the Triple Crown will get all of the attention during the first three weeks of the month, but those two races are just the anchor races for four days of outstanding racing at Pimlico in Baltimore and Churchill Downs in Louisville. The Kentucky Oaks and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes will be run the two Fridays preceding the big race days for the colts. In addition to the Derby and Oaks, Churchill will have nine graded stakes on May 4th and 5th, including the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. Pimlico will have an additional five graded stakes in support of the Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness, including the return of the historically significant Pimlico Special for older horses.
In addition to the hoopla surrounded the 3-year-old classics, this month will have graded stakes for all racing divisions (except the 2-year-olds), including the Met Mile, one of the most prized races in America since its first running way back in 1891. The Met will be run over the long Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial for start summer racing; racing fans can enjoy fourteen graded stakes at seven different racetracks over the weekends three days..
Hollywood Park in California and Belmont Park in New York will have their first full months of racing after opening in April. Arlington Park and Monmouth Park will open their summer meets this month. Both tracks will be the site of major stakes races in July and August, including the Haskell Invitational and the Arlington Million.
There will be great racing from coast-to-coast throughout the month of May, but the racing world will be focused on the Derby and Preakness with fingers crossed that we will head into June with a chance for a Triple Crown winner on June 9th at Belmont Park.
NBC Sports Network will broadcast the post position draw for the Kentucky Derby starting at 5:00 Eastern Time. Here is a listing of TV coverage for all Derby-related programs.
Arlington Park – Arlington Park near Chicago, Illinois will open for business.
Churchill Downs – Kentucky Oaks day at Churchill Downs will feature the best 3-year-old fillies in the country racing for a $1 million purse. The Friday card will also include the Grade 2 American Turf for 3-year-old grass runners and the Grade 3 Eight Belles for 3-year-old filly sprinters. For older horses, Churchill has the Grade 2 La Troienne for fillies and mares and the Grade 2 Alysheba for males. The Kentucky Oaks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network with coverage starting 5:00 pm Eastern.
Churchill Downs – It’s Christmas day for racing fans! Kentucky Derby day is racing’s biggest day, attracting over 150,000 people to Churchill Downs and millions of TV viewers. The race day begins at 11:00 ET and will include a total of five graded stakes, among them the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Classic for turf horses, which is certain to attract some of the best grass horses in the country. The post time for the Kentucky Derby is 6:24 and will be broadcast on NBC with coverage starting at 4:00 pm ET.
Monmouth Park – Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey will open for business.
Delaware Park – Delaware Park in Stanton, Delaware celebrates its 75th anniversary on opening day of the summer meeting.
Belmont Park – Belmont Park will have the Grade 2 Peter Pan for 3-year-olds. There is a good chance that at least one runner from the Peter Pan will return in the Belmont Stakes on June 9th.
Pimlico – The Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes will be run for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico in Baltimore. Also on the pre-Preakness Day card is the Grade 3 Pimlico Special for older horses. The second ever Pimlico Special, run in 1938, was the famous match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral.
Pimlico – Preakness Stakes day is the biggest race day on the Maryland racing calendar. All eyes will be on the Kentucky Derby winner with hopes that we will have a Triple Crown attempt in New York in the Belmont Stakes. Preakness Stakes, Pimlico will have four additional graded stakes on the undercard.
Memorial Day weekend starts with graded stakes in New York, California, Chicago, and Louisville. Arlington Park in Chicago will have the Grade 3 Arlington Matron for fillies and mares and the ungraded Arlington Classic for 3-year-olds on the turf. Hollywood Park, Churchill Downs, and Belmont Park will all have graded turf stakes for older males and females.
The last day of significant racing for the month of May will come on Memorial Day when Belmont Park will card three Grade 1 races: the Acorn for 3-year-old fillies, the Ogden Phipps for older fillies and mares, and the prestigious Met Mile for horses three and older. In California, Hollywood Park will have the Grade 1 Gamely for fillies and mares on the turf and the Grade 3 Los Angeles for sprinters.