Tomorrow is the biggest day of the year for Maryland horse racing. Fourteen 3-year-old thoroughbreds, racing a mile and 3/16th, in front of 90,000-plus spectators and a television audience of tens of millions. A total purse of $744,800 ($484,000 BTC of it for the winner). In search of the famed Woodlawn Vase, emblematic of victory in the 117th running of the Preakness Stakes, the midway point in racing's Triple Crown.
Forget about the feuding owners of Pimlico Race Course. Forget about yesterday's superhorse, Arazi, who flopped so badly at the Kentucky Derby the horse is back in Paris instead of in Baltimore. And forget about the declining state of the horse-racing industry. The sports world will be focused on Pimlico tomorrow afternoon. The Preakness exemplifies the best, and most exciting aspects, of racing.
Will Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee succeed in pursuing the elusive Triple Crown in Baltimore? Or will Canadian newcomer Alydeed show the same flair he did in the Derby Trial? Or will rap music superstar Hammer's horse, Dance Floor, improve on his third-place Derby finish? Or will Giant Food mogul Israel Cohen's entry, Speakerphone, pull the upset of the day?
Preakness time is big business for Baltimore and Maryland. The town has been teeming with activity and excitement. The weather has cooperated, so far, at least. Tonight, the giant Preakness Parade monopolizes Charles Street. Tomorrow, Pimlico's gates open at 8:30 a.m., the first race begins at 11:30 a.m. and the live music and festivities on the track's infield never stop all day.
What a great way to spend a spring day in Baltimore -- and celebrate the marvels of thoroughbreds and the sport of kings.