A promising crowd of 77,000 witness Preakness history

May 17, 2009 | Gary Quill

Much has already been said about the disappointing crowd of 77,000 who posted at Pimlico to celebrate Maryland’s marquee event, the Preakness. It may not have been such a shock to Magna Entertainment Corporation as their change in infield policy is being blamed as the primary reason for the 30% drop in attendance, but it was the correct call. I was in 100% agreement with the decision, thinking that with the worsening economy the timing was right, and I am excited that there are at least 77,000 people who attend the Preakness for the reason the event is held… horse racing!    


To those “Sunday Morning Handicappers” who take pride in piling on the “I told you so” bandwagon, I have 6 words for you… It is time to grow up! Yes, those of us decades removed from our college days (Nestor and I among them) fondly remember the wonderful, crazy times we experienced in the infield on Preakness Day… but they did not include hurling full beer cans across the infield as if you’re a college QB at the NFL Combines.


The infield TRADITION never included that activity. I suggest to all who are in the “Preakness sucks w/o BYOB” camp to plan a trip to the 2010 Kentucky Derby Infield Party, Friday and/or Saturday, then report back on what a lame party it is… NOT! Can the more than 150,000 people who fill the Churchill Downs infield on those two days be wrong?   


Maybe if you would spend more time learning how to read the Past Performances in the Daily Racing Forminstead pounding beers and shots from 7am til 7pm, you might be able to win a few bucks and not miss having to step around the drunken idiots as if you were avoiding land mines in Iraq. Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of websites filled with FREE information eager to educate a novice horse racing fan. 


If you read my brief Preakness Day blog, you know that my picks did not come in… far from it in fact. But no one can deny the excitement that surrounded the filly v. boys storyline, where only a script having Mine That Bird nosing out Rachel Alexandra at the wire, keeping a Triple Crown winner hopes alive, would have been a more fitting ending. Unfortunately, the horse racing gods intervened once again. 


Will attendance in future years continue to be 77,000, as long as the Preakness remains in Baltimore with a ‘No BYOB” policy? In my humble opinion NO! It will grow each year, attracting more and more horse racing fans, serious and casual, to enjoy the event and possibly witness history… again. You can BET ON IT!