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Preakness-goers frustrated by wait times as long as two hours to enter

Preakness-goers reported waiting in lines as long as two hours to enter Pimlico.
Preakness-goers reported waiting in lines as long as two hours to enter Pimlico. (Wesley Case)

Preakness-goers reported waits as long as two hours to get into the annual horse-racing event Saturday afternoon, causing some to miss the InfieldFest’s headlining acts. Others gave up and left.

Reisterstown resident Melissa Mazur, 23, missed seeing electronic music band Odesza during a two-hour-plus wait.

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She and a friend got to Pimlico around 1:30 p.m., but around 3:20 p.m., Mazur said she was still in line.

“It’s been really rough,” she told The Baltimore Sun at the time. “No one is guiding us.”

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Mazur, a Mug Club ticketholder, said that there were no security guards or signs indicating whether she was standing in general admission or a line specifically for the Mug Club, a ticket designation that includes beer. Mazur said other people helped her navigate, but when she called Pimlico, Mazur said an employee told her she would have to leave the general admission line and queue up for the Mug Club instead. Mazur said she refused to get in the back of another long line.

“I’m kind of sticking it out,” she said, with hopes that she’d be admitted once she got to the front of the line.

“I was just shocked, because I come to Moonrise [Festival] at Pimlico, and it’s just as large of a crowd, if not larger, so I’m dissapointed,” she said. “I would just like them to do better, that’s all.”

Organizers had predicted that Preakness attendance would surpass last year’s record of 140,327. They announced Saturday evening that it fell to 134,487.

Dave Joseph, a spokesman for the Maryland Jockey Club, said officials hadn’t received any complaints of particularly long lines.

“We haven’t heard anything like that,” he said. “With 140,000 people, someone’s bound to have issues at some point.”

Mount Airy resident Michael Bianca* and his wife missed Preakness this year completely. The couple arrived at 2 p.m., but 45 minutes later, Bianca wrote in a Twitter direct message to a Baltimore Sun reporter, he hadn’t moved more than 10 feet.

“[We] couldn’t stand in a sea of people anymore and decided to leave,” he wrote. It was his wife’s first Preakness, he added.

Andrew Hofferbert, 28, of Parkville, said in a text message around 2 p.m. that nobody knew where to go and that it was an “absolute nightmare.” He said he waited around two hours to get in.

Baltimore resident Ryan Dare, 35, also said in a text message that it took him two hours to get in. Dare attributed the wait, in part, to the number of people scanning tickets.

“There were only 4 or 5 [of] them for the whole line,” he texted.

And despite having a Mug and Vine lounge ticket — a special accommodation that was expected to include private restrooms, a cash bar and other accomodations — it took more than three hours to get a drink and bathrooms were closed, he wrote.

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Baltimore Sun reporter Wesley Case contributed to this report.

In recent years, the Preakness Infield has felt like a standalone concert and all-day drinking party for millennials, curiously placed next to one of the biggest horse races in the world. But on Saturday, InfieldFest will see major changes designed to bridge that generational gap.

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