I never imagined myself being interested in horse racing beyond the odd Seabiscuit-esque, tear-jerking biopic though I’m happy to report that our first trip to Preakness was one of the best times I’d had in recent memory. Maybe it was the fact that Brooke and I won more than we lost or that we picked Oxbow to win the Preakness stakes. Maybe it was striking the right balance between libation and adrenaline while placing exotic bets – hitting the trifecta while my girl picked the winner on our first try. What’s undeniable is that last Saturday was a magical day over in Park Heights and I can’t wait to go and do it again.
In the past, tales of hordes of people dragging copious amounts of alcohol into the infield, only to bake helplessly in the sun for hours on end until their mental capacity decayed precipitously kept me away from the track on Preakness day. I had visions of any semblance of civilization evaporating in direct inverse proportion to the rising average blood alcohol level amongst attendees. Thankfully, the organizers of the event had the good sense to curtail the unfettered debauchery in the infield by banning outside beverages. I’m happy to announce to others who may have avoided Preakness for similar reasons that not only was Preakness wholly civilized, it was a phenomenal time. I might even go so far as to say the experience made me an instant fan of horse racing and an emerging advocate of Pimlico. The truth is that Preakness is one the greatest days of the year to be a Marylander.
I can understand that wherever gambling and the welfare of animals are concerned, there are ethical questions that need to be addressed. I am also aware of some of the missteps that the racing industry has taken in the past and that there are still improvements that need to be enacted. That being said, I’m certain that smart people can find solutions to whatever issues arise and preserving this tradition is important enough to work through any problems. What’s important is that there are many positive things to embrace. Here’s a few:
- The Preakness is an 138 year old tradition that brings the attention of the entire world to Baltimore
- Pimlico is a historic 143 year old Baltimore institution that has the power to bring people together
- Horse racing makes slot machines feel like gambling for three year olds and I can’t even believe that folks would bother crossing state lines to go into alpha-state in front of machines designed to take your money when there’s horse racing, an undeniably superior mode of gambling, right here in Maryland
All of this leaves me with these questions and maybe you can help answer them:
What’s being done to restore Pimlico to it’s rightful place as a lynchpin in our city’s culture and how can we help?
How can we better activate Pimlico for events besides horse racing?
How can we do a better job of marketing Pimlico to new generations who will support this great Maryland tradition into the future?