Preakness Stakes postponed due to coronavirus crisis

FILE PHOTO: May 18, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Javier Castellano aboard Warrior's Charge (3), Jon K. Court aboard Market King (6), Daniel Centeno aboard Alwaysmining (7) Jose L Ortiz aboard Anothertwistafate (12), and Tyler Gaffalione aboard War of Will (1) race during the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - The Preakness Stakes, the second jewel in North American horse racing’s Triple Crown, will not be run on May 16 as scheduled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, although a new date has yet to be determined, organisers said on Friday.

“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,” the Stronach Group and the Maryland Jockey Club said in a statement.

“A decision will be made on a new date for Preakness 145 and will take into consideration all of the recommended best practices from local and governmental health authorities to protect the community.”

The organisers also announced they would cancel InfieldFest 2020, an annual race day music event that attracts thousands of younger, rowdier patrons to the infield.

News that the Preakness will be postponed comes after the Kentucky Derby announced it would push back its race until Sept. 5, marking the second time in its 146-year history that it has been delayed.

Both the Preakness and Kentucky Derby each draw more than 100,000 horse racing fans annually.

Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Toby Davis