11 things we learned from Preakness 2015

Here are some things we learned from yesterday's Preakness:

1. Baltimore can still throw a party. After weeks of national telecasts, headlines and news conferences focused on unrest in the city, Baltimore put on a much better face Saturday. Preakness Saturday offers the city an opportunity to shine in front of a national audience, and for all the minor issues of the day, the city did well for itself. Bigger issues will linger for Baltimore, but judging by the attendance and by the number of celebrities in the grandstand and among the infield tents, people didn't steer clear of Park Heights this weekend.


2. American Pharoah can handle adversity. Not only did Pharoah manage in the rain, he appeared to thrive, winning Preakness by seven lenghts — a greater margin than in the Kentucky Derby. The Belmont Stakes will offer some new faces to challenge the champ, but American Pharoah seems poised to take on whatever comes his way as he aims to claim the first Triple Crown since 1978.

3. Here we go again. We all know the script, right? Horse wins Kentucky Derby. Hype ensues. Same horse wins Preakness. LOTS of hype. Superstar horse comes up short in Belmont Stakes. The quest for a Triple Crown winner waits another 11 months. That's how it has been for going on four decades, now. Maybe this year American Pharoah will be the one to snap the skid. But first, the buzz grows louder.

4. Pimlico is old. The 140th Preakness was run at speeds comparable to what some race-goers were clocked at when running to find the nearest bathroom, after a water issue at the track caused some bathrooms to be shut down. Old Hilltop showed her age a little on Saturday, as the world watched and decision-makers kept in their minds the potential that the race could leave Park Heights — perhaps for Laurel.

5. About those bathrooms, though. The toilets shouldn't become a storyline at a nationally-publicised sporting event. But they did Saturday. According to some race-goers on social media, nearby residents were charging visitors to use bathrooms, while some women at the track were opting to venture into men's bathrooms in emergencies.

6. Baltimore doesn't care that Pimlico is old. Age be damned, race fans and partiers turned out in record numbers Saturday, as the Preakness welcomed 131,680 folks to the old track. The facility can't hold down the fun, it seems.

7. The infield party goes on no matter the music. Country, rock, electronic dance music. No matter. In fact, the new crowd that came Saturday to see the modern sounds of Childish Gambino and Armin Van Buuren may have contributed to the record crowd. By all accounts, the Preakness infield was still the Preakness infield Saturday.

8. Bob Baffert gets it. Not only did the trainer figure out Pimlico, he got the big picture on Saturday too. After the race, Baffert, who is American Pharoah's trainer, told reporters, "What a day for Baltimore. They really needed this after all they've been through." 

9. Fancy hats > downpours. Preakness-goers were creative in their ability to preserve super-intricate, fancy hats in the Preakness Village as a strong storm flooded the track just as the main race was to begin. For all of the suits, dresses, heels and dress shoes on the infield, Baltimore managed to have a good time in spite of the mud and soaked clothing.

10. It won't be the same if it moves. The entrepreneurial spirit in the neighborhood surrounding Pimlico would be tough to match should the Preakness be moved — say, to Laurel. And it would be a sad day for those residents who make a decent payday by leasing out their lawns.

11. What's next? The future of the Preakness is yet to be determined. But that aforementioned Triple Crown buzz will hang around a bit longer. Can one of the contenders we've watched in the first two jewels rise to the occasion? Will Baffert dare enter another horse to challenge history? Or will the pursuit of history finally come to an end? American Pharoah will be crowned — or another horse will steal the throne — on the evening of June 6, when all eyes turn to Elmont, N.Y. and the running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes

Recommended on Baltimore Sun