When the nine horses running the Preakness Stakes line up Saturday evening at Pimlico Race Course, they'll do so in near-record heat: nearly 91 degrees, according to forecasts.
CBS Baltimore projects an afternoon high of 95 degrees, which will drop to about 91 by the Preakness' 7:01 p.m. post time. The record — 96 degrees — was set back in 1934.
The race is generally known as the middle jewel in the Triple Crown, sandwiched between the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. There's no chance of a Triple Crown winner in 2022, as owner Richard Dawson and trainer Eric Reed have decided not to enter longshot Derby winner Rich Strike in Saturday's race.
It's the first time since 1985 a healthy Kentucky Derby winner wasn't entered in the Preakness, according to CBS Sports.
The favorite is Derby runner-up Epicenter, who was at 6-5 odds, followed by Early Voting at 7-2 and Secret Oath with 9-2 odds. The longshot in the field is Fenwick, at 50-1.
And it's the first year since 2019 that fans have been allowed to watch the Preakness, and tens of thousands of people are expected to watch the shortest race in the Triple Crown, according to CBS Baltimore. Before the pandemic, which forced all three races to run without fans, the Preakness drew more than 100,000 people each year since 2010.
The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for the area, warning the heat index could hit triple digits Saturday, which is forecast to be the hottest of the weekend. The agency urged people spending time outdoors to take extra precautions, including wearing lightweight and loose-fitting clothing, staying in the shade and out of the sun, taking frequent breaks in air-conditioned environments and staying hydrated with non-alcoholic beverages.
The sweltering temperatures are part of a heat wave expected to hit the East Coast this weekend, as The Weather Channel forecast a high temperature in New York of 91 degrees and 95 degrees in Washington.