Pimlico Race Course opens its gates today for its 108th year with a meeting of 108 days that will run through July 22.
Headlining the initial program is the $30,000-added Politely Stakes, a six-furlong dash for 3-year-old fillies bred in Maryland. The favorite is expected to be Dance of The Grebe, with Silver Ice and Spring Triple getting strong support.
The Baltimore track will feature 25 stakes headed by the 103rd Preakness May 20. A distribution of nearly $7 million in purses is anticipated, with $965,000 of its earmarked for added-money events.
The riding colony at Pimlico will be largely the same as it was last year except for one major change. Perenial leader Chris McCarron will move his tack to Santa Anita March 29 and is expected to make California his home base thereafter. McCarron tied with Vince Bracciale for Pimlico's jockey title last year with 40 winners each.
The Politely States, today's opening feature, was the vehicle for one of the weirdest payoffs in the history of thoroughbred racing.
Five years ago, the filly Marian Bender had won seven races in a row. She was backed down to a prohibitive 1-to-5 in the Politely. She finished out of the money, causing a wild distribution of the various betting pools. The odds board read.
Winsome Impe . . . $67.20 25.00 73.00
Rambelle . . . 42.60 159.40
Pegemina . . . $124.00
Pegemina . . . 124.00
One explanation for the strange payoffs is that one man wagered $20,000 to show on Marian Bender. In all, $92,908 was wagered on Marian Bender to show out of pool totaling $100,852.
The $6 triple box Pimlico is a Maryland first. The advantage of the smaller wager is that the payoff is usually under the $1,000 figure at which the Internal Revenue Service begins withholding 20 per cent of the winnings.
Post time at Pimlico is 1 p.m.