One record could fall Saturday before the Preakness Stakes is run for the 147th time. The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-90s; a reading of 96 degrees would tie the 1934 race as the hottest Preakness ever, WMAR reports. The heat index is expected to be close to 100 degrees, problematic for humans and horses. And a Code Orange Air Quality Alert is in effect because ozone concentrations are up. Fans, who will be back in person at the Baltimore track for the first time since 2019, will be dealing with misery that's part of the heat wave hitting the East Coast this weekend; meteorologists said it will be the hottest day of the year in the area. "I think the fans in the infield will have a little more trouble than the horses we are leading over there," one trainer said.
The temperature is projected to fall to 91 degrees at post time, 7:01pm EDT, for the second leg of the sport's Triple Crown. Crowds were cautioned to keep hydrated, and three tented water stations were set up in the infield for fans, each with a dozen spouts. Trainers said they'd do the same with their horses. The equine medical director for the Maryland Racing Commission said buckets of ice water, sponges, and cooling jackets will be available for the horses, and staffers are being added to hose them down. "We are going to push every single horse to be hosed," Libby Daniel said. Still, the weather could force a delay or cancellation of the race, Daniel said. Protocol requires a formula to be used to make that decision that includes temperature, humidity, and wind speed, per the Baltimore Sun. (Read more Preakness Stakes stories.)