It would be hard to overstate the importance of thoroughbred horse racing in Maryland. The Old Line State ranked with Kentucky and New York as an epicenter for the very popular spectator sport of horse racing. That's why the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore is, along with the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, part of the sport's premier annual event. It is a sporting tradition that, as it approaches its 140th anniversary in a couple of years, makes the Super Bowl look like a Johnny come lately. Even the World Series, with a little more than a century under its belt, is a relative newcomer.