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Your Monday Reality Check: Can’t say enough about Preakness infield transformation

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Your Monday Reality Check: Can’t say enough about Preakness infield transformation

Posted on 20 May 2013 by Glenn Clark

Four years ago, I described the first ever Preakness “Infieldfest” event as a “miserable failure” in a column here at WNST.net.

It was a terrible event in 2009, as many former attendees chose to boycott the event after the Maryland Jockey Club boldly announced they would ban the longtime tradition of allowing fans to bring their own beer to the Infield to revel. Attendance dipped well below 100,000 for the day, as the infield area was practically barren and few were compelled to come see musical acts like ZZ Top, Buckcherry and Charm City Devils.

We love a good sports redemption story, don’t we?

It’s with that in mind that Preakness has officially surpassed Josh Hamilton as the best redemption story of the millennium. And not because Preakness is capable of hitting home runs in September, either.

The 2013 version of Preakness was absolutely fantastic Saturday at Pimlico, despite the weather not being fully cooperative. The event was festive, energetic, fun and most importantly an outstanding representation of Baltimore on a national scale. Now seeing what the Preakness has become, it’s hard to imagine the event was ever the embarrassing, dangerous frat party it was known as throughout the country in the 90′s and much of the early 2000′s.

Perhaps the most amazing part of what the Maryland Jockey Club has accomplished with their transformation of Preakness is that they managed to keep the already existing positive aspects of the event and actually improve them in the process of gutting the most seedy parts of the event. (Combined with the fact that that they’ve done it without the type of support from their ownership (The Stronach Group) that would allow for major infrastructure changes, whether they be to the facility or to the year-long pedestal the sport of horse racing can be placed on within the state of Maryland.)

I did my best to visit every part of Pimlico Saturday, from the barns to the corporate village to the clubhouse to the grandstand to the press box to the turn to the infield and even to the Sports Palace (admittedly they thought twice before letting me in there). I was blown away with the number of stories people would tell me about how they had made a trip to the infield during the course of the day.

There was the Cockeysville girl (Nikki) in her late 20′s who was sitting in her family’s box on the turn who told me she took a break from the all you can drink area to see Florida Georgia Line because she is a big country music fan.

There was the mid-30′s man from Towson (AJ) whose friends had seats in the grandstand but wandered out to the infield with his college buddies to see Chevelle. He told me he didn’t even really mind having to pay for beer because it was still cheaper ($4) than most events.

There was the 40-something sales exec from Pikesville (Dustin) I bumped into during Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ main stage set. He was with a group that had a tent in the corporate village but told me it was nice to have the option to visit both spots.

There were the many Baltimore Ravens players (namely Torrey Smith, Arthur Jones, Justin Tucker, Michael Oher, Kelechi Osemele and Jameel McClain) who ventured seemingly everywhere around the track that I caught hanging around the stage as Pitbull was playing to a massive throng. I seemed to bump into these guys just about everywhere I went, including the huge Under Armour pavilion on the infield.

A neat thing about this entire group? They all talked to me at least a bit about horse racing. Whether they were asking me if I bought into Orb, trying to talk up another horse or even talking to me about some of the other races they had bet on during the course of the day, there was real horse racing conversation.

The Preakness infield has gone from the frightening spot where you would fear seeing your high school daughter end up to the must-attend place to be every May. It’s gone from the place where frat boy types up and down the east coast would descend simply because they knew the rules would allow for them to be a-holes to the place where young people from the Charm City region celebrate a rite of passage in the spring.

It’s not as if Infieldfest is without flaws, as the amount of alcohol consumed on the infield still allows from a few bad people to do questionable things. But it isn’t what Preakness once was. “The Running of the Urinals” is far gone and “the run to get tickets because we have to be there” is now very real. Just ask anyone who realized they missed their chance to join “The Mug Club” in the last couple of weeks.

I hope the MJC remains invested in upgrading Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico as well. I talk regularly about how special Kentucky Oaks day is in Louisville, and I believe there’s the possibility for the same to happen in Charm City. The partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the addition of live music (the Goo Goo Dolls helped bring a crowd of nearly 40,000 to Pimlico Friday) have been real upgrades, but more can still be done in the coming years by both the MJC and by the city of Baltimore to embrace the full weekend event.

I can’t say enough about how one bold decision made by Tom Chuckas and the Maryland Jockey Club ultimately reversed the course of Preakness forever. I criticized them in 2009. I was wrong. It took time, but what’s happened over the course of the last few years has been spectacular.

I can’t even imagine what the event is capable of becoming if Frank Stronach’s recent claims of major future investments in the track are truthful. I’ll admit skepticism, but I was also the guy that was more than skeptical of Infieldfest in 2009.

I was ultimately very wrong. I hope to be again.

-G

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Photos: Preakness quite the star-studded affair in Baltimore

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Photos: Preakness quite the star-studded affair in Baltimore

Posted on 19 May 2013 by WNST Staff

An announced crowd of 117,203 attended Preakness Saturday at Pimlico Race Course. A certain number of them were perhaps a bit more interesting than others.

A number of Baltimore Ravens were in attendance for Saturday’s event, including WR Torrey Smith, K Justin Tucker, OT Michael Oher and G Kelechi Osemele. Smith posted this picture of the group hanging out with one of Charm City’s finest…

Smith also posted this picture of himself hanging out with former Ravens LB/future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis…

Ravens DL Arthur Jones was also hanging out with the group, he and Tucker ended up posing for this picture with KISS’s Gene Simmons. You read that sentence right.

This was just before Simmons managed to photobomb D. Wayne Lukas’ celebration on NBC after Oxbow won the race…

And to wrap up the Gene Simmons portion of today’s show, his model/actress long-time girlfriend Shannon Tweed posted this picture claiming how much money she won…

Ravens LB Jameel McClain was also in attendance and he made some interesting hand gestures…

Maryland football coach Randy Edsall attended the event with his wife…

New Orleans Pelicans G (and former Terp) Greivis Vasquez was also seen hanging out near the Under Armour tent Saturday afternoon…

“House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey was at Preakness and spent some time with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley…

“The Good Wife” star and Baltimore native Josh Charles was also at Preakness, he even stopped to pose with our own Glenn Clark’s fiancé Margaret…

The Baltimore Sun snapped this photo of former Buffalo Bills quarterback hanging out at Preakness Saturday…

Other celebrities in attendance included Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former NBA player/coach Avery Johnson, celebrity chef Bobby Flay, Towson football coach Rob Ambrose, former NFL coach/ESPN analyst Herman Edwards, former U.S. Olympic Gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, Senator Ben Cardin, former NFL Coach/Terrapins OL Mike Tice and more.

Platinum artist Pitbull headlined the Infieldfest festivities as pictured below. Other performers included Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Chevelle and Florida Georgia Line.

The biggest star of the day was surprisingly Oxbow, who stunned the crowd by winning the race while Kentucky Derby winner Orb finished 4th. Perhaps the best photo of the moment was captured by ESPN The Magazine…

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Chevelle, Florida-Georgia Line added to Preakness lineup

Posted on 15 March 2013 by WNST Staff

Bands Will Play On Jägermeister Stage May 18 At Pimlico Race Course

 

BALTIMORE, 03-15-13—The Maryland Jockey Club today announced Chevelle, Florida-Georgia Line and Kristen and the Noise will perform on the Jägermeister stage on Saturday, May 18 at Pimlico Race Course, prior to the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes (G1).

 

Last month it was revealed that Pitbull and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis will play extended sets on the main stage. Grammy winners Maroon 5 (2012), Bruno Mars (2011), Train (2011) and Zac Brown (2010) have performed on the main stage at InfieldFest in previous years as well as Rock and Roll Hall of Famers ZZ Top (2009), Buckcherry (2009), O.A.R. (2010) and Wiz Khalifa (2012).

 

“We have been trying to land Chevelle for four years and are excited to have them perform,” Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said. “Florida-Georgia Line are rising stars in the country circles, while Kristen and the Noise will kickoff the festivities. Our team does a terrific job of mixing and matching the genres so everybody has an act they would like to see.”

 

Chevelle, an alternative rock band, has sold over four million records in the United States since 1999 and garnered three Grammy nominations. The Chicago-based band’s 2004 album This Type of Thinking Could Do Us In debuted at #8 on the Billboard 200 and exceeded gold status. The band scored its highest entry into the Billboard Top 200 with Sci-Fi Crimes in 2009, debuting at #6. Additional information on the band can be found at http://www.chevelleinc.com/.

 

Florida-Georgia Line was recently named Top New Vocal Duo or Group by the Academy of Country Music Awards. The duo’s debut single, “Cruise”, hit the Top 10 just 14 weeks after its release and has sold over one million copies, reaching #1 on the iTunes Country Singles Chart and spending five weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot Country songs chart. Additional information on the band can be found athttp://www.floridageorgialine.com/.

 

Kristen and the Noise will open the Jägermeister stage. The energetic Philadelphia-based band is a regular in the mid-Atlantic region, featuring lead singer Kristen Kwolek. The band performs cover songs Aretha Franklin to Lady Ga Ga and a mix of current rock, alternative, dance and modern day hip hop. Additional information on the band can be found at http://www.kristenandthenoise.com/.


Blonde Marketing, an independent event management and production company, has booked and produced the Jägermeister stage bands and activities since its inception in 2009. One of last year’s performers, Little Big Town recently won a GRAMMY for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

 

Jägermeister, an herbal liqueur made from 56 herbs, roots, blooms and fruits, is the number one selling imported shot brand in the United States and the eighth largest premium spirit in the world.

 

In addition to concerts, Preakness InfieldFest features a variety of activities and a slew of Maryland-branded food and beverage concessions.

 

Two expansive and redesigned MUG Club areas will serve MUG Club ticket holders efficiently and accessibly. For an additional $20 to a regular admission ticket to the public Infield, fans receive a souvenir mug for unlimited refills of beer. As in all prior years, the Maryland Jockey will continue to work closely with its beverage partners to ensure that responsible drinking policies and protocol are in place for all Preakness fans.

 

Infield tickets are $50, with a MUG Club package of $70 through May 11. Prices increase to $60 (Infield Ticket) and $80 (MUG Club) during Preakness week.

 

Seating information and ticket reservations are available at www.preakness.com. Tickets can be bought by calling the Preakness sales office at 410-542-9400 or 877-206-8042 or at http://www.ticketfly.com.

 

NO beverage of any kind (cans or bottles), including alcohol, soft drinks and water will be allowed to be brought into the public Infield. Coolers and backpacks, containing food, will be permitted in the Infield but coolers larger than 28″l x 15″w x 17″h will be prohibited. Beach blankets and suntan lotion, cellular phones, cameras (up to 35mm), camcorders, binoculars and lightweight plastic lawn chairs are also allowed in the Infield.

 

The annual running of the Preakness is an American institution. First contested in 1873, it is one of thoroughbred horse racing’s most valued Grade 1 stakes races. Now one of the largest single-day sporting events in the United States, “The People’s Race…The People’s Party” hosted 121,309 fans a year ago for the pivotal middle jewel of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown at famed Pimlico.

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Preakness-InfieldFest-138

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Pitbull, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to play Preakness infield

Posted on 25 February 2013 by WNST Staff

PITBULL, MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS TO HEADLINE INFIELD CONCERT ON PREAKNESS DAY

BALTIMORE, 02-25-13—The Maryland Jockey Club today announced 2013 Preakness InfieldFest will include performances by Pitbull and by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Both will play extended sets on the main stage in the public Infield on Saturday, May 18 at Pimlico Race Course when the Maryland Jockey Club, North America’s oldest sporting organization, hosts the 138th renewal of the Preakness® Stakes. 

The annual running of the Preakness is an American institution. First contested in 1873, it is one of thoroughbred horse racing’s most valued Grade 1 stakes races. Now one of the largest single-day sporting events in the United States, “The People’s Race…The People’s Party” has hosted up to 121,309 for the pivotal middle jewel of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown at famed Pimlico.

International superstar Pitbull has risen to become a global sensation as both a recording and performing artist. The Miami-native added to a long-and-growing list of hits with his first #1 and the 2012 Billboard Music Award for Radio Song of the Year, “Give Me Everything” from his album Planet Pit, which earned critical acclaim and enjoyed massive commercial success with sales of more than 1.7 million albums and 18 million singles. Pitbull has performed to sold out crowds throughout Latin America, Canada and Europe before bringing the party to the United States, Japan and Australia. Pitbull’s current single “Don’t Stop The Party” is a global radio and video hit and is also featured on his new album Global Warming. “Don’t Stop The Party” comes on the heels of Pitbull’s 2 million-selling single “Back In Time,” the chart-topping anthem from the action-adventure-comedy Men In Black 3. He kicked off the recent Grammys by presenting the first award for Best Pop Duo performance with Jennifer Lopez. Additional information can be found at http://www.pitbullmusic.com/us,https://twitter.com/Pitbull and http://m.facebook.com/pitbull?id=95051637400&refsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pitbullmusic.com%2Fus&_rdr.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have emerged as a premier national hip-hop group known for their electrifying live shows, expertly crafted music and innovative music videos. Last year was a banner year for the duo. Their debut full-length album, The Heist, shot into the #1 spot on iTunes and debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts without the support of a traditional record label. While on their 70-city sold out world tour supporting The Heist , their catchy single, “Thrift Shop”, landed them at #1 on the Billboard charts. Additional information on the duo can be found at http://macklemore.com/, https://twitter.com/macklemore and http://www.facebook.com/Macklemore.

“InfieldFest at the Preakness enters its fifth year positioned as the region’s biggest, best and most unique party,” said Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas. “There is no other event where fans can revel so completely in a multiple entertainment festival experience that features a legendary American horse race and first-class music with national headliners delivering non-stop action throughout the day. The Preakness Infield has long been a rite of passage for generations and 2013 promises to continue that tradition.”

GRAMMY winners Maroon 5 (2012), Bruno Mars (2011), Train (2011) and Zac Brown (2010) have performed on the main stage in previous years as well as Rock and Rock Hall of Famers ZZ Top (2009), Buckcherry (2009), O.A.R. (2010) and Wiz Khalifa (2012).

In addition to the main stage headliners, Preakness InfieldFest will feature live music from top acts on a second stage, presented byJägermeister, and a variety of other activities. The Jägermeister stage acts and a third main stage artist will be announced shortly.

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