This year’s bet had to be the easiest in years for Maryland politicians at the Preakness Stakes.
From Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to Baltimore’s Democratic Mayor Brandon Scott, and others in between, elected officials were putting their money on Early Voting, a horse with strong Baltimore ties.
“This [name] is timely, this is relevant,” said Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. She’s running for reelection and said it’s the first time she’s bet on a horse race.
Nick Mosby, her husband and the Baltimore City Council president, said Early Voting was his choice because of the name. Mosby said he lost his bets on Black-Eyed Susan Day, but seemed optimistic for Saturday’s races.
Scott echoed his city counterparts — “I chose it because of the name,” he said — but had plans to place some additional bets.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore said he would bet on the horse with Baltimore ties because you “bet on horses from here.” Early Voting’s owner, Seth Klarman, grew up blocks from Pimlico, and Hogan said he was backing the horse because Klarman gave him some inside knowledge Friday night.
Beyond the bets, most of Maryland’s politicos were there to shake hands, smile for cameras, see constituents and show off their finest race day outfits. Opting for a tan suit and straw hat, Hogan spent most of his time in the state tent, wheeling and dealing with cabinet officials and business owners he hoped to lure to Maryland to create more jobs, he said.
Marilyn Mosby, who is facing federal perjury and mortgage fraud charges, joined her husband Nick in presenting the trophy to the winner of the Gallorette Stakes, an earlier race won by horse Technical Analysis. Mosby had a locally made fascinator on her head and black and white Jordans with peach shoelaces for her feet. Husband Nick had on a specially made short suit — literally he wore shorts — from Baltimore-based men’s store Benedetto Haberdashery.
Scott and Moore had on blue suits. Thiru Vignarajah, who is running against Marilyn Mosby for state’s attorney, also had a blue suit.
But they were just a few of the important people in Pimlico’s exclusive infield chalets or elsewhere on the grounds. Ravens players and coaches, like cornerback Marlon Humphrey and John Harbaugh, attended. Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz was there. Actress Lupita Nyong’o, singer-songwriter Katharine McPhee and celebrity chef Bobby Flay all were spotted.
The festival was such a hit that it, not the horses, was the talk of the day for most of the Democratic politicos in attendance. Scott spent 25 years of his life living in Park Heights, the neighborhood around Pimlico, and didn’t attend his first Preakness until 2019.
He said the addition of Preakness Live made the annual horse race inclusive to all of Baltimore, not just the privileged.
“We felt like Preakness was an event in our neighborhood, but now it’s an event for the neighborhood,” Scott said.
Liles’ event had a superstar lineup including Megan Thee Stallion, an eight-time Grammy-winner, as well as legendary singer Ms. Lauryn Hill and Club Quarantine’s D-Nice. Liles said the event was a way to get all of Baltimore involved with Preakness.
“The one special thing about Baltimore is, when we have access, we get engaged,” Liles, a West Baltimore native, said.
Hogan, who did not attend Preakness Live, said it was encouraging to see the crowds back this year despite the oppressive heat. Hogan also commented on the lack of work done to Pimlico since the General Assembly approved $375 million in bond funding two years ago to renovate the track in Baltimore and in Laurel. The money came at a time officials were worried Pimlico’s owners, The Stronach Group, would move the annual race to Laurel.
“I think COVID had a lot to do with some of the slowness, because you just can’t get materials or workers, everything was sort of shut down,” Hogan said. “They’ve got to step it up and make a little more progress quickly, but it’s just wonderful to have all the crowds back here today, and I think it’s just going to get better in the future.”
Baltimore Sun Editor Micha Green contributed to this story.