The 149th Preakness Stakes will be run two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, the race’s traditional spot on the Triple Crown calendar for decades, despite an earlier call from organizers to reconsider the schedule of American horse racing’s most famous series.

A representative of 1/ST Racing and Gaming, the owner of the Maryland Jockey Club and Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore where the middle jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown is held, confirmed to The Banner that the Preakness is scheduled for May 18.

In August, 1/ST CEO Aidan Butler said the company had talked about moving Preakness from two weeks after the Kentucky Derby to four weeks in the name of horse safety.

“This would give horses more time to recover between races to be able to run in the Preakness,” Butler told the website Thoroughbred Daily News. “Horse safety is more important than tradition. NYRA is aware and considering how this would impact the Belmont. Stay tuned.”

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A representative of the New York Racing Association said at the time the organization had no plans to change the date of the Belmont Stakes.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul confirmed those intentions Wednesday when her office announced the Belmont will be held June 8. With the Derby already set for May 4, the idea of reshuffling the Triple Crown schedule appeared to be quashed.

In a major change, though, the the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown will be held at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York, next year while Belmont Park, the venue for the race since 1905, undergoes a multimillion-dollar overhaul. The race was run at Aqueduct Racetrack from 1963-67 during an earlier renovation project at Belmont Park, the governor’s office said.

“As part of the exciting modernization of Belmont Park, Saratoga now adds to its storied history by hosting the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown,” Hochul said in a statement. “It’s a win for horseracing and for the Capital Region to have the excitement and the ability to host the four-day Festival in June at America’s most historic track. As I said during the 2023 Saratoga Meet, ‘Let’s do it.’”

As a result of the switch, the Belmont will be contested at 1 1/4 miles instead of the usual 1 1/2 miles.

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NYRA also announced the purse for the Belmont Stakes will increase from $1.5 million to $2 million, still $1 million shy of what’s offered at the Kentucky Derby. In 2022 and 2023, the Preakness purse was $1.65 million.

In a response to questions from The Banner, Butler said the bigger purse “is good news for the industry overall. We look forward to another exciting 2024 Triple Crown Series.”

Amid the push for new dates, Butler noted in a statement that the conversation about spacing out the races is “nothing new.”

“We recognize that modifying the schedule for the Preakness Stakes could have implications, and we look forward to engaging with all stakeholders to work through questions and concerns,” he said in a statement. “The future of the Triple Crown is best decided collectively, but we are committed to seeing this conversation through to a positive result.”

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Although each of the races in the series dates to the 1800s, the concept of the Triple Crown was not popularized until the early 20th century. Even then, the spacing and order of the races was not solidified until 1969.

The Maryland Jockey Club has suggested adding more time between the races before, arguing most trainers of Derby runners do not want to bring their horses back so quickly.

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“The philosophy of the trainers has drastically changed over the years,” former Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas told The Racing Biz in 2014. “It is hard for them to bring a horse back from the Derby in two weeks and run a horse three times in a five-week period. Most of them will not do it. But this idea is not just for the Triple Crown races. We have an obligation to the public to put our best racing on the table when the world is watching, and we are not doing that.”

This year’s Derby winner, Mage, was the only Derby horse in the Preakness field.

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