Ponies used to lead horses on the track have been dressed up to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure also (Photos courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).
Horse racing has always been a sport synonymous with Saturdays.
The vast majority of the sport’s major stakes are contested on Saturday, including its gems, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Sundays have usually been the second-best option for a quality day of racing, but in recent times Fridays have carved out a small but colorful foothold in the landscape.
The Kentucky Oaks, on the day before the Kentucky Derby, has been a Friday fixture for racing fans in Bluegrass country for decades, but now there’s also a second day of Breeders’ Cup races that begin the two-day slate on a Friday.
Saratoga and Keeneland also open their popular meets on a Friday.
Pimlico, too, has done its best to make Fridays popular in racing circles for being something other than the mundane day before Saturday.
This year, on Preakness eve, Pimlico put together an outstanding card of racing that would eclipse most track’s Saturday fare.
The 13-race card was themed Black-Eyed Susan day and served to heighten awareness for breast cancer research by benefitting the Susan G. Komen for the Cure fund as the traditional Preakness colors of yellow and black gave way to pink.
The day’s events featured an infield concert with the Goo Goo Dolls, a flyover, and appearances by the Red Bull Air Force Paramotor team and the Budweiser Clydesdales.
There was also a jockey challenge, featuring four male and four female riders, and a Lady Legends race for former riders like Barbara Jo Rubin, P.J. Cooksey and Zoe Cadman, who is a now an HRTV analyst.
The stakes package was highlighted by the $500,000 Black-Eyed Susan, which was headed by Grade 1 winner Emollient and Fiftyshadesofhay, and also included the $300,000 Pimlico Special with Eighttofasttocatch and the 8-year-old Richard’s Kid.
There were five other stakes on an outstanding card of racing, all of which served as a perfect lead-in to the excitement of Saturday’s main event at the Old Hilltop.
With Pimlico and Churchill Downs both packaging two days of Triple Crown fun, perhaps Belmont Park will take note and join in one day by beefing up its Belmont Stakes eve program. Belmont will offer two stakes on the day before this year’s “Test of the Champion,” but there’s much more that can be done to bring people out to the races on a day more commonly associated with events like high school football.
For proof, just take a look at all of the fun that took place at Pimlico, not just on Preakness Day but the day before it as well – on a Friday.