The Preakness Stakes, Pimlico, Baltimore

The Preakness is by far the most unique and maybe the most overlooked of the 3 races that comprise horse racing’s Triple Crown. What makes it so unique? For one, while those attending the race get excited just like at the Kentucky Derby or Belmont, this really is the “local people’s race.” Maryland race fans and the people of Baltimore trade the conspicuously pretentious fashion, over-the-top hats, and syrupy sweet mint juleps of the Kentucky Derby and the long-standing tradition of formal attire at Belmont Park for tarty Black-Eyed Susans, soiled T-shirts, bikini contests, and one hell of a raucous infield party with equal parts spontaneous nudity and fistfights.

Pimlico Race Track, affectionately known as “Old Hilltop,” has just as rich a history as Churchill Downs, Belmont Park or really any track in the United States for that matter. Opened in 1870, this year marks the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes. Sure, Maryland’s day-to-day racing product may not be as high-quality as in Kentucky or New York, but that enhances the importance of Preakness weekend. To quote my good friend and longtime colleague Steve Munday about Pimlico, “the cracked wood, peeling paint and mustiness only add to its charm.” Like Baltimore, it’s old, rundown, beat up, quirky, and not a damn bit apologetic about it.

The most unique thing about the Preakness, however, is that while we all love to watch, bet, and handicap races, this race is the only one of the year where everyone roots for the same horse. Sure, some of us will bet against American Pharoah on Saturday, some won’t. But whether we cash a ticket or not, we all want a potential Triple Crown on the line heading into the Belmont Stakes.

There is no other race of its kind in horse racing. So instead of saying “Pimlico is a dump” or “there won’t ever be another Triple Crown winner;” get your Preak on for a full 8 hours! It really might be the best experience in horse racing.

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