After the Preakness, a muddy cleanup for the Pimlico staff

After the Preakness, a muddy cleanup for the Pimlico staff.

On Sunday morning at Pimlico Race Course, Clenard Brooks was pushing a broom around the grandstand and tallying up all the trash he found in the infield.

"I found lotion, hair grease, body wash, lipstick. Food was everywhere," said Brooks, who works on Pimlico's utilities crew. "I found shoes. I saw a wig out there, broken fingernails. The cleanup was chaotic because of the mud. When you're picking up trash, you're picking up mud."

The rain that fell much of the day before Saturday's Preakness Stakes made for a big, sloppy mess for Pimlico's facilities staff to clean up on Sunday. Brooks and other employees estimated the cleanup would take up to two weeks.

Piles of garbage bags several feet high were scattered around the infield on Sunday morning as ponchoed staff raked and bagged more trash and threw the bags onto garbage trucks. Other workers were breaking down tables and loading up ATMs. Much of the grass in the infield had been pounded into a mud pit. By mid-morning, about half the grandstand was shiny and buffed, while the rest was muddy and covered in trash.

"Somebody found $100" in the mud, said Derek Stewart, another member of the cleanup crew out on the infield. He declined to share who the lucky employee was. "The rain makes everything exceptionally messy. But it's a wonderful experience. I'm glad to be here, glad to make money."

Attendance at the 141st Preakness was a record 135,256, track officials said. Exaggerator surged to the finish at the very end of the Preakness Stakes, dashing hopes for back-to-back years of Triple Crown winners.

While officials were still analyzing the economic impact of the event, the Maryland Department of Commerce estimated that last year's Preakness and the events surrounding it had an economic impact of $33.6 million, supporting 482 full-time equivalent jobs, $12.9 million in salaries and $2.2 million in state and local taxes.

NBC's ratings for its Preakness coverage Saturday were up seven percent in household ratings compared to last year, according to Nielsen overnights provided by the network.

In Baltimore, race coverage on affiliate station WBAL was up 17 percent year to year, according to NBC. It was the best hometown rating for the race since 2009, according to NBC.

Inside the grandstand, Adam Russell was overseeing a staff that was breaking down a Stella Artois stand. Russell, a senior account manager with Mosaic, which runs beverage stands for Anheuser-Busch at events across the country. Last week, Russell said the stand was at the Kentucky Derby.

"The weather was a huge factor," Russell said of the cleanup. "In ideal conditions, it's always laborious, but when you have rain all day, mixed with 100,000 people, mixed with mud, it doesn't make the job impossible, but it's difficult."

But, he said, "we prepare for the worst."

As workers piled shelves onto pallets and prepared to pack kegs of beer, Russell said he was hoping they would be sent next to the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the Triple Crown.

"It was a great event," he said of the Preakness. "The horses were amazing and everyone was in a great mood."

Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik contributed to this report.

cwells@baltsun.com

 

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