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Sep 03, 2010

Bonus introduced for winning Preakness Stakes

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's been a few years since there has been a bonus for sweeping the Triple Crown races. During the time that VISA sponsored the bonus, no three-year-old thoroughbred won the three classics, Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Now, MI Developments Inc. has announced a bonus program involving winning the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course and specified prep races at company owned racetracks. The name of the program is PREAKNESS 5.5. The 5.5 represents the $5.5 million that would be up for grabs by owners and trainers.

The tracks involved are all owned by MID: Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields. The $5.5 million bonus will be shared between the winning owner ($5 million) and trainer ($500,000).

"The purpose of this grand prize is to provide a spectacular event for the fans and to create a potential life changing experience for the stakeholders of the racing industry," stated Frank Stronach, Chairman of MID. "These events represent the greatest hope for the renewal of the thoroughbred racing business in America. Our continued development of MID's recently acquired assets should translate into improved results across MID Racing Properties' asset base."

In order to receive the bonus money horses prepping for the Triple Crown at the designated tracks must win at least two stakes races for three-year-olds.

At Gulfstream Park a horse must win either the Holy Bull Stakes or the Fountain of Youth, and also capture the Florida Derby on Sunday, April 3, 2011. The purse for the Florida and the Santa Anita Derbies have each been raised to $1 million.

At Santa Anita Park, before claiming the Santa Anita Derby a horse must win either the Robert B. Lewis or San Felipe Stakes. A horse can also qualify by winning the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields and then win the Santa Anita Derby.

"Gulfstream and Santa Anita have long and storied traditions of producing the finest three-year-olds in the country," said Gulfstream Park General Manager, Steve Calabro. "I expect this will produce Gulfstream's finest winter racing."

A consolation prize will also be offered sponsored by XpressBet. This will be called XpressBet .55. If the winner of the 2011 Preakness is not eligible for the Preakness $5.5 million bonus, the winning owner would get $500,000 and the winning trainer $50,000. However, the Preakness winning horse must have been a runner in one of the initial qualifying races and finished first, second or third in the Santa Anita or the Florida Derbies.

"I am really excited to support the owners and breeders in the 2011 three- year-old season," said Ron Luniewski, President of XpressBet. "As we move towards the three-year-old season, we will be offering some fun wagers based on the Preakness 5.5 and the XpressBet .55."

Any new idea that can increase interest in thoroughbred racing must be commended. I would like to see more bonus programs created spanning races over an entire year.

A logical one would involve the Haskell Invitational, Travers Stakes and Pennsylvania Derby. All are $1 million stakes for three-year-olds during the summer and early fall.

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