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Pandemic delays Preakness Stakes, cancels InfieldFest

The Maryland Jockey Club officially postponed the running of the 145th Preakness Stakes that was set for Baltimore next month.

The race is the latest event delayed or canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Maryland Jockey Club and Stronach Group made the expected announcement on Friday afternoon.

“The Stronach Group and the Maryland Jockey Club are continuing to work with our key stakeholders to explore all options to set a new date for the running of Preakness 145. 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. A decision will be made on a new date … and will take into consideration all of the recommended best practices from local and governmental health authorities to protect our community,” the companies said in a statement.

The InfieldFest, a concert event held on the infield of the track at Pimlico Race Course, has been canceled outright. Those who bought tickets for InfieldFest have the option of a refund or transferring the tickets to next year’s event.

The Kentucky Derby, the first race in horse racing’s Triple Crown that precedes the Preakness Stakes, has already been postponed.

Postponing the race provides another blow to Baltimore’s struggling tourism industry. The Preakness is the single largest sporting event held in Maryland and pumps millions of dollars into local tax coffers.

Since COVID-19’s outbreak in the U.S. the city’s tourism industry has all but disappeared. Visit Baltimore, the city’s tourism promotion agency, projects to lose $7 million in hotel tax revenue over the period of April, May and June.

Loss of tourism revenues contribute to the bleak financial forecast for Baltimore government.

Only months ago Baltimore projected to finish the current fiscal year with a $26.4 million surplus but now faces a $42.3 million deficit. Baltimore’s budget officials this week presented a preliminary budget for the next fiscal year that they acknowledged has been made “irrelevant” by a projected $100 million revenue loss because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

New of the postponement on the race comes just weeks after the Maryland General Assembly approved a deal to keep running the Preakness in Baltimore.

Legislators approved the Maryland Stadium Authority issuing $375 million in debt to overhaul Pimlico Race Course to host the Preakness Stakes each year and turn Laurel Park in Anne Arundel County into a year-round horse racing facility.

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