Chasing the Triple Crown – The Preakness Stakes, Part II

Heather and Matthew at Preakness.

{Heather’s View}

One of the traditions we bought into during our time chasing the Triple Crown was the fashion. The glorious huge over the top headwear and the uber preppy male dress attire. It was fun and entertaining and part of the entire experience.  We had fun dressing up and fitting in like the pros (we looked far from being pros).

Getting ready to setup the starting gate.

Getting ready to set up the starting gate.

The Preakness Stakes, race #2 in the Triple Crown, was held at Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore, MD. This area and this race couldn’t be more opposite of the KY Derby. The race track is located in a very run down part of Baltimore. We didn’t get that homey welcome feeling driving into the location like we did in KY. It is not recommended to park near the race track. Instead, park at one of the race bus transportation locations and ride the designated buses to and from the track.

The set up is the same regarding the inner field spectators or grandstand seating tickets.  This time, we bought tickets to sit in the grandstand.  The grandstand tickets also allow for you to visit the inner field to enjoy the concerts,  variety of food and entertainment. There is a range of prices depending on your seat location.  I recommend getting seats unless you are focused on the party vibe only.

Parading the horses around before the race.

Parading the horses around before the race.

Preakness had a different atmosphere.  The energy was still high and lots of partying going on everywhere. The location felt more run down, less upscale, sort of county fairish feeling. The paddock area was enclosed, crowded and hot. It didn’t allow for many viewers because the space was confined and smaller. Pimlico was a race track without all the bells, whistles and audience pampering like its fancy sibling, Churchill Downs.

Pimlico paddock area.

Pimlico paddock area.

We wandered through the entire location trying to find that sweet, fun viewing spot filled with people like the ones we had found at Churchill Downs. The spot was nowhere to be found, so we got a black eyed susan and headed to or seats.

On the way, we stopped to place our bets. Again Matt for I’ll Have Another and me for the underdog. With hopefully 1 winning ticket we headed to our seats. Hello! What were we thinking? We should have been hanging out in the grandstand the entire time. This is where the atmosphere was hiding.

Matt's winning ticket.

Matt’s winning ticket.

We sat down in time to watch two races before the big race. Wow! It was pretty amazing. Hearing the horses hooves pound the ground as they ran past the grandstand was incredible. As the two prior races finished, the air started to fill with more excitement. Then it was time. The 137th Preakness Stake was about to start.

The contenders were paraded onto the track and escorted one by one to the starting gate.  Hearing the gates click and the horses’ shoes clank against the gates made it all more high stress. The last horse was locked in. The combination of the countdown, the opening of the gates and the anticipated “And they’re off” seemed like forever but, in reality, was just mere seconds.

I'll Have Another and Bodemeister

I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister

I'll Have Another makings his move on Bodemeister

I’ll Have Another makings his move on Bodemeister

You can’t help but jump up and down and start screaming. The energy is so on fire, and it all happens so fast. By the time you realize you are going nuts it is all over. And our boy (yes, we had claimed him as “ours”) he did it again. I’ll Have Another flew around the track to win leg #2 of the crown.  Some of his doubters even hopped onboard the I’ll Have Another speed train. People wanted it; they wanted another Triple Crown winner in 2012, and our boy was on his way.

I'll Have Another racing to win on the Pimlico Race Track

I’ll Have Another racing to win on the Pimlico Race Track

[Matthew’s View]

To say that my expectations were very high would be a serious understatement. As with all things Maryland, I was disappointed. To be fair, I suppose, Pimlico never stood a chance against the enthralling experience provided by Churchill Downs and my first horse race. Gone were the glitz and the prized tradition, and it was replaced with a county fairgrounds in a long forgotten and abandoned part of the city.

Doug O'Neill, I'll Have Another's trainer

Doug O’Neill, I’ll Have Another’s trainer

After an uneventful tour of the stuffy paddock area, seeing the magnificent horses on the other side of a wall of Plexiglas was not the way to go. It was beginning to feel like there was no hope for Preakness at all, save I’ll Have Another. We decided to get our traditional cocktails and head to our seats. That’s where Preakness had its moment. In Kentucky, my horse won, but I had to watch it on the jumbotron, here I was finally going to be able to see it all unfold right in front of my eyes.

And They're Off

And They’re Off

Bodemeister in the final stretch.

Bodemeister in the final stretch.

The jockeys on horses paraded around for a bit and then all were loaded into the starting gate. That noticeable amp of energy surged through the crowd as the race was about to begin and when the bell sounded the stands erupted. I was right there with them, for if we were to have any chance at all of seeing an infamous Triple Crown winner, I’ll Have Another had to take this race. The next 2 minutes brought a fevered pitch of excitement that I think I have only felt that one time. Seeing the horses run live and having someone to truly root for had me jumping up and down screaming my head off, the power and elegance of those horses were truly a sight. Next thing I am screaming at Heather, “He did it; He did it!” The Triple Crown was insight now, and it was all thanks to this astounding horse.


The Preakness Stakes is an American flat Thoroughbred horse race held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. First ran in 1873, the Preakness Stakes was named by a former Maryland Governor after a winning colt at Pimlico. The race has been termed “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” because a blanket of yellow flowers, altered to resemble the Maryland State flower, is placed around the winner’s neck. The race boasts the second highest attendance behind the Kentucky Derby. Unlike the Kentucky Derby, Preakness has not run every year since it began, missing 1891, 92 and 93. For 15 years from 1894 through 1908, the race was held at Gravesend Race Track on Coney Island, New York.

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