What time does the Preakness Stakes start today?

Horses race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Friday.
Horses race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Friday. The Preakness Stakes will be run Saturday after moving from its normal date in May because of the coronavirus outbreak.
(Steve Helber / Associated Press)

There is usually a certain predictability to figuring out what time one of the Triple Crown horse races is going to run. But not this year.

With Saturday’s Preakness Stakes moving from May to October, there was a need to run the big race about an hour earlier. Why? The sun, or lack of it.

The race goes off around 5:45 p.m. in Baltimore. Somewhere near 4:45 p.m. in Chicago and all the cities in the Central Time Zone. About 3:45 p.m. if you are in the Mountain flyover states. And, for those of you who get home delivery of The Times, it’s 2:45 p.m. Yes, I mean Los Angeles.


Back to why, well, the sun sets earlier in October than it does in May. The day the Preakness was originally scheduled in May had an 8:14 sunset. On Saturday in Baltimore, the sun sets at 6:47 p.m. Not even the power of NBC can change the time of sunset.

If Kentucky Derby winner Authentic takes the Preakness Stakes, he’ll have won the first two legs of a 2020 version of the Triple Crown, trainer Bob Baffert says.

Of course, Pimlico Race Course doesn’t have lights. Last year, it didn’t have running water. No kidding, there wasn’t water in parts of the track. Another part of the track was closed because of safety. The track hosts racing only three weeks a year, surrounding and including the Preakness.

In short, Pimlico is, how can it be put delicately, a dump. Even the owners, the Stronach Group, which also owns Santa Anita and other tracks nationally, wanted to move the Preakness to its sister track at nearby Laurel Park. But Pimlico Race Course, and the Preakness, was considered such a part of the fabric of Baltimore that a deal was struck where public money would be funneled to refurbish the track.

So, especially with so few racing days, installing lights would be like adding air conditioning to an igloo.

It seems as if television has even lost interest in the race as its coverage is down to just 90 minutes from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Los Angeles. (That 4:30-6 p.m. on the East Coast.)

Despite this less-than-stellar architectural review, it’s a really good race.

Authentic, winner of the Kentucky Derby, is the 9-5 favorite. Art Collector, who skipped the Derby because of a minor injury, is the big competition at 5-2. There are some other new horses in the race.

As for the winner, tune in around 5:45/4:45/3:45/2:45 to watch the most exciting 1 3/16-mile horse race in sports.