Sun, dry racing surface: better than crab cakes, boardwalk fries
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Please, no more torrents of rain at the Preakness Stakes. Not another sloppy track. Not another Triple Crown race marred by the weather, the condition of the track and bumping and jostling of the prized thoroughbreds.
Just once, a clean race. On a clear day. Without a controversial finish. And a good time was had by all.
After another rain-filled pre-race at Louisville and wet people trying to dodge the raindrops to get a view of the just-as-wet thoroughbreds, the Preakness at crumbling Pimlico Race Course needs to be full of sunshine, light-hearted hijinks in the infield and a celebrated race itself — full of home stretch drama and quality horse racing.
But it has rained and been miserable at the Preakness, including last year when Justify was gathering his lasting headlines in winning the second jewel in the Triple Crown series.
No person accustomed to the comfort of modern technology or inventions and discoveries of the last 100 years wants to be at Pimlico for a fashionable and honorable thoroughbred race. But Pimlico is where they have to be to see the Preakness Stakes.
The never deterred teens, college-age patrons and twenty-somethings out to try the tastes of alcohol will be camped in the infield.
Those believing their positions on society’s totem pole should get them a comfortable afternoon away from the bustle of the less-moneyed won’t be satisfied. There is little comfort to be found at Pimlico, where another 6,700 seats were ruled to be too dangerous for people to be safe enough to watch the Preakness.
After the furor caused by the disqualification of Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby, a perfect-weather day where the thoroughbreds hold people’s attention would be ideal.
Forget Pimlico’s dusty interior. Don’t even turn toward the pealing paint and walls of trash cans hastily filled as Preakness Day neared.
Focus on the magnificent thoroughbreds. Get some fresh air upwind from the massive infield crowd of recreational smokers.
The field for the Preakness should be larger than those in recent years when Justify, American Pharoah and California Chrome chased off less talented prospects.
There won’t be a prohibitive favorite with miniscule betting odds. There will be reasons to back nearly all of the candidates.
It’s only two weeks between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, so owners and trainers must decide if the strain of so few days to rest their stars is worth the chance for racing glory.
Some who raced at Louisville will go ahead and come to Baltimore. Several challengers who raced in Arkansas or New York will bring fresher forces to Pimlico’s dimly lit barns.
Will Country House or Maximum Security see the value in the Preakness? Could the possibility of a dry track tempt some who railed at the slop and water-filled surface at Louisville’s Churchill Downs? Winning the Preakness is still worth hundreds of thousands in breeding dollars to any of the survivors of the rigors faced in travel and training for the race.
Some will leave Pimlico to the pigeons and sparrows and focus on the Belmont Stakes coming three weeks after Baltimore.
Flared nostrils, shining chestnut coats, white stockings and brutish muscles of the entered thoroughbreds will again rule the day — even at Pimlico.