Sorry that I didn’t have a blog yesterday for anyone that was looking for it; I literally spent all day clacking away at my computer, and there’s really nothing I can do to turn that into a decent photoblog. I will say this, though: I had dinner at a place in Timonium last night called Basta Pasta, and it’s really good – highly recommend!
Anyway, the good news is it’s now Black-Eyed Susan Day, and that means lots of great racing, great times and lots to explore at Pimlico Race Course!
I woke up at the relatively late hour of 7 a.m. and made my way to the racetrack. The barn area was packed – the closer we get to Preakness Day, the more press members arrive, so you can imagine the scene here this morning one day away from the big race. Plus, jockey Rosie Napravnik was holding a press conference – she’s riding Mylute in her first Preakness tomorrow and she was a force at Maryland racetracks early in her career. As you can imagine, she attracted a ton of attention! Seriously: that’s her in the white tent way in the back in the photo below.
There were plenty of other racing luminaries at hand, too: here’s trainer Bob Baffert, who trains Black-Eyed Susan contender Fiftyshadesofhay and Preakness hopeful Govenor Charlie.
I also spotted Joel Rosario – he’s the jockey who rode Orb to victory in the Kentucky Derby and will be piloting him again in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
NBC’s Michele Beadle was there, and happily posed for a photo with America’s Best Racing Brand Ambassador Chip McGaughey. She was really gracious and nice - keep an eye out for her in the Preakness broadcast!
Here’s Eclipse Award-winning journalist Claire Novak looking like a boss in the barn area – love that she totally commandeered this golf cart: it’s a total #RacingGirls move!
After my adventures in the barn area, it was time for the photographers’ meeting. This is essentially the same as the one we had before the Kentucky Derby: a meeting where track officials go over safety regulations and rules for shooting during the race. Since it was a perfectly beautiful day, I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to have a little time outside and take in the sun.
While we were in the middle of the meeting, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley arrived! He was really funny, doing his very best Evita impression as every single photographer took the bait and snapped away.
He then one-upped us all by taking a selfie. Governors: they’re just like us!
After the photographers’ meeting, I headed into the infield to do a little exploring. My first stop was to swing by the ABRV, which is located about halfway between the two InfieldFest stages. Perfect! If you’re planning on coming to the Preakness, please be sure to stop by, say hi and learn a little more about the best sport in the world.
Then I got down to the serious business: scoping out the food situation. I mean, it’s important to tell you guys what the spread is here, right? JOURNALISM. Also, I just really, really like food.
Here’s a sample of the goodies I found:
Then I saw this sign:
Now, my friend Anne Pennington had spoken to me of these crab pretzels: they’re fresh Maryland crab mixed with various kinds of cheese baked on top of a soft pretzel and sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. I felt it was my journalistic duty to sample one. You know: for you, the reader.
All I have to say is: yum! And for only $7, it’s a pretty good bargain, especially considering that it’s really rich and filling.
After that, I just took in the scene. I made my way over to the Grey Goose tent, where there was a beautiful buffet and tons of places to watch the races. Very cool! If I were here as a fan this is probably where I’d spend my day.
Seriously, the tent is right next to the turf course; this is the view fans get when horses run on the grass.
Pretty rad, right?
Remember those Clydesdales I got to play with the other day? They also came out to parade for fans at the track. They looked beautiful, and people really enjoyed the spectacle.
I also swung by the Racing 101 tent in the infield. This is a place where ABR has joined forces with the awesome folks at HorsePlayer Now to teach new racing fans the best way to bet. It’s great – all you have to do is tell these guys and gals how much you want to bet, what you feel comfortable with and even which horses you like, and they’ll teach you a way to be that’s fun, easy, and usually profitable!
As I was leaving the infield, I came across this scene: it was a type of (human) race where contestants had to stuff oyster shells from a giant pile into bags and get ten full sacks onto pallets about 30 yards away. The four fastest times would face off at the end of the day, and the winner would get $1,000 – not too shabby! These men and women were serious about the competition, and I got a little tired (but mostly impressed and entertained) by watching them.
After that, it was time for me to boogie over to the grandstand to take in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, the sister race to the Preakness. As I was waiting for the three-year-old fillies to emerge onto the racetrack, there was another show to take in: these crazy parachute guys, who whizzed around doing all sorts of tricks and maneuvers in the air above Pimlico. As someone who is terrified of heights, this was seriously impressive to me!
I also took a look at the pony horses, those equines and riders whose job it is to escort the racehorses from the saddling paddock to the starting gate safely. On big days, pony horses are often dolled up to the nines, and today was no exception. Look how pretty!
Then it was race time! Seven 3-year-old fillies went to the post, and in the end it was Fiftyshadesofhay who took home the lion’s share of the $500,000 purse money.
Also, can we all agree that that’s a hilarious name for a horse? I couldn’t help myself: I had to send out this tweet:
So that was Black-Eyed Susan day at Pimlico Race Course, and it was awesome.
I am so incredibly excited for the Preakness Stakes, and I hope you’ll join me for my photoblog recapping the awesomeness that is the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Until then, here are a few more photos showing the beauty of Pimlico Race Course.