Look for a wide-open Preakness Stakes two Saturdays hence with one of the largest fields to venture onto the Pimlico track in years. Arazi, the prohibitive favorite at the Kentucky Derby, won't be there, though: He's back in France after flopping badly. Yet winner Lil E. Tee, the other top four finishers and some well-regarded newcomers are heading for Old Hilltop.
The two weeks between the run for the roses at Churchill Downs and the run for the Black-eyed Susans here have turned into a prolonged festival leading up to the big day. You know spring is here when Preakness events begin.
Horse racing is a billion-dollar industry in Maryland. So it is fitting that sports fans focus on Pimlico this time of year. Lil E. Tree still has a shot at the elusive Triple Crown, but the competition will be even stiffer than it was in Kentucky. The shorter distance, the tight turns and a crowded field of 14 make this a hard-to-handicap race. As it should be. Preakness time gives Baltimore a big lift. And the beauty is that everyone can join in the fun.