After winning the 135th running of the Preakness Stakes, the owners of "Looking at Lucky" celebrated their victory with VIP friends at Aldo's Ristorante Italiano in Baltimore's Little Italy.
Hall-of-Famer trainer Bob Baffert was joined by "Looking at Lucky" owners Mike Pegram and partners Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, winning jockey Martin Garcia, NFL Coach Mike Tice, and retired NBA player and independent film producer Matt Othick at a post-win dinner party that included as many as 35 VIP guests and phone calls from around the world -- from people like Oscar-nominated actor Chazz Palminteri -- congratulating the victors.
In keeping with their decade-long post-Preakness tradition, dining at another table was the production team from NBC Sports. Independent producer and director Billy Rapaport joined the "Lucky" party for a champagne toast during which he told the revelers, "Not only do you know how to pick a great horse, but you know how to pick a great restaurant, too. Congratulations!"
The "Lucky" party raided the award-winning wine cellar at Aldo's, celebrating their victory with rare champagnes and Italian red wines while dining on a multi-course meal that included pan-fried soft shell crabs, crab cakes, veal chop "alla Milanese," housemade gnocchi with wild boar ragu, Orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage, among other dishes.
When Chef/Owner Aldo Vitale personally congratulated the group of diners, NFL Coach Mike Tice told Vitale, "This was one of the top 5 meals I've ever had. One of the best restaurants in the country"-- a comment which prompted an spontaneous round of applause.
Preakness Day is traditionally the busiest day of the year at Aldo's, which has long been Maryland's unofficial post-Preakness dining venue, attracting horse owners, trainers, jockeys and the sports writers and producers who cover them for over a decade.
Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby