(first appeared in The Equiery May 2012 issue)
The 137th running of the Preakness Stakes is set for May 19 at Pimlico in Baltimore as the second leg of the Triple Crown. This historic race has seen the likes of racing legends Secretariat, Citation and War Admiral. There are countless race day traditions that surround the Preakness, but did you know that there are plenty of activities for you to participate in during the whole week leading up to the Preakness? Some are as old as the race itself, some are new spins on old traditions and others are pushing race day into a new era.
Here are just a few “Editor’s Picks” for things to check out during Preakness week.
For the third year, Black-Eyed Susan Day (May 18) is going pink with its annual Lady Legends for the Cure Luncheon benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The day features special lady jockey races including the Lady Legends for the Cure Race and the Female Jockey Challenge. The Lady Legends race brings back legendary lady jockeys in a pari-mutuel race. The Female Jockey Challenge spans several races throughout the day with lady jockeys earning points based on their finishes. At the end of the four-race competition, one will be crowned champion.
For the best Black-Eyed Susan Day experience, grab nine friends and reserve your Stable Table. Stable Table guests will not only have a front row seat for the day’s races, including the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, but also a luncheon in the Turfside Terrace and a private breakfast tour of the Pimlico stables with legendary horsewoman Kathy Kusner. Country band Edens Edge will be performing in the Turfside Terrace.
For details and tickets, visit equiery.com.
Sunrise at Old Hilltop
It does not matter if you are a morning person or not, get up early at least once during Preakness Week to watch Sunrise at Old Hilltop. From 6 am to 9 am on May 16-18, spectators can watch the Preakness contenders during workout sessions and visit the Preakness Stakes barn during this 20-minute tour.
Music, Music, Music
One word… CONCERTS! Seriously, who knew? In an effort to revitalize the Preakness infield, organizers have sought out the best in the music biz over the past several years. Past years’ performers have included Train and Bruno Mars and the crowds in the infield have increased. In 2010, the attendance was around 95,000. With headliner performers, the infield crowd grew to more than 107,000 in 2011.
This year, the Maryland Jockey Club announced on February 3 that Grammy award winner Maroon 5 and Grammy-nominated Wiz Khalifa would headline the infield concerts. Within three days of the announcement, ticket sales were already up 6% from the previous year. By April, MJC reported that ticket sales were significantly up from that time last year. Little Big Town, The Darkness and Mr. Greengenes are also on the Preakness Day infield lineup.
In the late 1930s, a group of trainers, owners and others would sit on the porch of the Pimlico Clubhouse to drink coffee and talk about the merits of their horses and swap tales. One thing led to another and the official Alibi Breakfast first took shape in the 1940s and was named as such by publicity director David Woods. Today’s breakfast features a gathering of media, owners, trainers, jockeys and horsemen to celebrate the Preakness.
More recently, the breakfast has expanded into its own ceremony, giving out a variety of media awards. This year’s breakfast will take place on May 17 in the Terrace Dining Room. “Team Rapid Redux” will be receiving one of this year’s awards.
Maryland author Sasscer Hill will be on hand on Friday to autograph copies of her latest book, Racing from Death. This mystery drama set at Colonial Downs is already getting rave reviews. Check it out and let us know what you think! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your review.
Mother’s Day Treat
Treat your mom to a day at Pimlico as part of the track’s Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch on May 13. OK, sorry, we do not know much about this one but it sounds like fun!
Love a good horse movie? Join the Maryland Jockey Club, Maryland Horse Council and Maryland Horse Industry Board for a week of classic movies. The AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center will be playing Misty, National Velvet, Secretariat, The Red Pony, The Black Stallion, The Man From Snowy River, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken and Hidalgo the week of May 12 through May 17. www.afi.com
Arabian Racing Added
A race for purebred Arabian horses has been added to the Preakness Day race card. The $75,000-added President of the United Arab Emirates Cup is a Grade 1 race run on the main track over 1 1/16 miles. The race will be limited to 14 horses. Pimlico president Tom Chuckas said, “adding the top Arabian race to what is already a first-class series of races will enhance the value of the day. We are pleased to partner with the UAE for this historic event.”
|Fun Preakness Facts – Did you know?
•15 Preakness winners have started from post position #6.
•The Woodlawn Vase was buried at the Woodlawn Racing Association in Louisville, Kentucky during the Civil War to prevent it from being melted into shot.
• From 1890 to 1909, the Preakness Stakes was held in New York.
• Nine Preakness winners have sired other Preakness winners.
• The word “Preakness” had many transformations before becoming the official race name we know today. The first version was derived from “Pra-qua-less,” meaning quail woods, an area in New Jersey where the Minisi people resided.
• Poet Ogden Nash once wrote, “The Derby is a race of aristocratic sleekness, for horses of birth to prove their worth to run in the Preakness.”
•A smaller sterling silver replica of the Woodlawn Vase is on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art and is brought to Pimlico Race Course under guard on Preakness Day.
• The Preakness Stakes has run over seven different distances with the shortest being one mile (1909 and 1910).
• The winningest Preakness jockey is Eddie Arcaro with six wins.
• Jockey Pat Day won three consecutive Preakness Stakes, 1994 through 1996.
Facts are compiled from preakness.com, preakness-stakes.com and about.com