Crowd ranks as second-largest


For those who felt slightly claustrophobic in the Pimlico Race Course infield yesterday, take heart.

It could have been worse.

A crowd of 87,245 attended the 116th Preakness. It was the second-largest crowd in Pimlico history, behind the 90,000 who witnessed the 1989 Preakness battle between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer.

In addition to the live gate, 9,450 spectators showed up at Laurel Race Course for a simulcast.

Yesterday;s total handle was $7,400,958. The pot breaks down to $5,924,060 wagered at Pimlico and $1,476,898 wagered at Laurel.

It was the third-highest Preakness Day handle, behind the $7,815,191 wagered in 1989 and the $7,567,578 wagered in 1990.

"We were bucking a poor weather forecast heading into the race," track publicist Jeff Weissman said. "The weather was ominous in the morning, too. A key time for us is between 7 and 10 a.m., when people are just waking up and deciding what to do.

"The queen's appearance Wednesday also overwhelmed the media in this area."

Weissman said he was not disappointed in the handle.

"The handle in the Preakness is the third-highest ever," he said. "The attendence and handle run in concert."

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