Chick Lang has a prediction: "I think we're gonna have a Triple Crown winner this year."
The longtime general manager of Pimlico Race Course is now 82, retired and living at the Easton Club in Talbot County. He is not planning to be at Pimlico today.
"I'm not as busy as I used to be," he said. But then, busy is a relative term. He was the man who brought the infield to Pimlico and coaxed the reluctant owners of the track to promote the infield as a place to spend the day. He relied upon promoters to sell the idea, which was initially pitched to area colleges. Long before there was binge drinking, there was a friendly collegiate tug of war.
"We got a lot of help from the media, too," he said.
Part of his official track duties, he said, was listening when he got a call from the pass gate. The attendant would call Lang and say, "The Director is aboard," code for the arrival of FBI legend J. Edgar Hoover, who loved the ponies and always traveled with his aide, Clyde Tolson.
"Hoover was a pretty good handicapper," Lang said.
He recalled that Hoover sat in a members' room and chose a seat so he could watch the door. "He told me he didn't want any surprises."
These days, Lang might enjoy goose hunting, but he has some bad arthritis and has had two knee replacements. "My upstairs is going great, though," he said.