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“Get your Preak on” – that’s the tag line for Preakness Stakes day, and it’s one that definitely fits the event. People are here to have a good time, no matter what that entails. Some fans are just here for the party; others are die-hard racing enthusiasts who love the spectacle of the races; some people are just here to listen to some amazing bands and some to show off their racing style. The great thing about the Preakness is that it’s the people’s race – it’s the leg of the Triple Crown that really is all about the fans and their experience. 

I started out my day by dumping my stuff in the press box and heading directly to the infield. This is where the revelry really happens, and it’s a ton of fun to see so many people getting into the spirit of the day in whatever way they want.

Even though it was still pretty early when I wandered over to the infield, the party was already getting started. People were pouring into the track, psyched to have a good time and Preak out.

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Another great thing about the Preakness is how much fun people have getting dressed up for the races; much like the Derby infield, the crowd skews one of two ways: some fans are in classic racing style or people who are dressing to get their picture taken. Fortunately, I was there to snap photos of both types of fans!

I loved these Orb t-shits these folks were sporting. If you can’t read them, they say “And the Orb jumped over the moon.” Cute!

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These ladies looked lovely, and I was impressed by their wise decision to wear flats – a good call when you’re going to be on your feet cheering the ponies home all day.

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I caught this guy monkeying around in the infield – see what I did there?

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This guy kind of combines the two aesthetics of Preakness Day – he has the whole traditional racing style down, but he definitely found a way to twist it into something attention grabbing! Well played, sir.

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Below are more people showing off their Preakness style – I love seeing people have fun with their fashion in every way, shape and form! 

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Of course, there were other notable sights to be seen, too. This may have been the cutest party crasher at the Preakness.

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If fans felt that they had come to the races under-accessorized, there were plenty of options in the vendor area to chose from.

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After taking in the infield fashion scene, I wandered over to the Racing 101 tent. This is where we’ve joined forces with the Daily Racing Form and the good folks over at Horse Player Now to teach new fans the fine art of gambling on horses. It’s a really great, easy way to learn handicapping one-on-one, and it was so much fun to see so many people learning how to play the ponies.

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And whenever a race went off, the crowd in the tent did, too! There were lots of winners there, and it was great to see so many people winning on the races and learning how to actually pick horses and make some money.

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Next I headed over to the ABRV to check out what was going on there.

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When I arrived, so did NBC’s Michelle Beadle! She graciously agreed to pose with our Ambassadors, who were very excited to meet her.

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The major concerts were about to start up, and there was absolutely no way I was going to miss Macklemore and Ryan Lewis so I started making my way to the main stage to check out the action. On my way, I passed this group enjoying some shots from the Jagermeister vendor. Whee!

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I also passed this place that was selling bacon-shell tacos. It took all of my restraint, but I did not eat one. Also, they were cash-only and I just had my credit card with me. Bummer.

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I also saw Zoe Cadman of HRTV having a blast with fans – she has an amazing sense of humor and is never afraid to throw herself in the mix of things. Gotta love a gal who will do a booty-bump on the air!

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I then flung myself into the crowd to experience the awesome that is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. When they took the stage the crowd went nuts, and they totally played to their audience. I think my eardrums actually ruptured from the screaming when “Thrift Shop” came on, but it was totally worth it! 

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That’s part of what makes the Preakness so awesome – it’s a race day unlike any other, with all sorts of experiences for one and all. 

Of course, there were also some top-notch Thoroughbreds to be seen today, and I had a great time moseying up to the infield rail to witness these amazing horses duking it out in a battle to the wire.

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And of course, it was a thrill to see the ultimate goal for the horses, owners, jockeys, trainers and grooms participating in today’s Preakness: the path to the winner’s circle.

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It gave me chills to see it.

Suddenly, I felt a change in the weather starting, so I hustled back to the press box, and I’m sure glad that I did! The heavens opened and the temperature dropped, and suddenly I was having flashbacks to the miserable weather on Kentucky Derby day.

Fortunately, the showers here were short-lived, and I was able to take in some great racing excitement from our perch way on the top floor of Pimlico. Here’s Pianist winning the Gallorette impressively:

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And I also captured Sage Valley winning the Maryland Sprint Handicap.

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At this point, Pitbull came on the main stage, and the crowd in the infield went totally bananas. It was really cool to watch, but I was pretty happy to be high and dry in the press box and not in that huge crush of people.

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Plus, the Preakness was coming up, and I wanted to make sure that I was there to catch all of the action leading up to the second jewel of the Triple Crown!

The race before the Preakness was the Longines Dixie Stakes, and as that field headed to the starting gate I began to get butterflies in my stomach. I know that technically I’m not supposed to root for horses, but anyone who’s read this blog before will know that I am a fangirl at heart, and after spending so much time with Orb in the last few weeks I was definitely hoping that he would have a good, safe trip.

But before the Preakness came the Dixie Stakes, and I was more than a little invested in the outcome since I was alive in the Pick 4 – this means that, as of the 11th race, I only needed the winners of the next two races to make some serious money. Unfortunately, a horse called Skyring came out of left field and stole the race at odds of over 24-1. Grrr… bye-bye massive payout for Penelope! But I couldn’t really get too blue – I was still at the Preakness and the main event was up next!

As soon as the Dixie was over, I grabbed my camera and scooted my way down to the barn area so I could catch the Preakness horses making their way to the track for the big show. There was a huge crowd of people there, ranging from fans to media to horsemen. This is yet another reason that you have to come to the Preakness – the track is incredibly inclusive, and if you want to wander over to the stakes barn to see these amazing horses in person, you are more than welcome to do so. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, here is the field of the 138th Preakness Stakes heading to the racetrack for the ultimate showdown. 

First off, #1, Orb, the Kentucky Derby winner:

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Here’s Goldencents, who would run from post position #2:

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Up next is Titletown Five:

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Unfortunately, I have no idea how #4 Departing snuck past me, so here’s a photo of him in the paddock:

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Here’s number #5 Mylute, who was giving Maryland native Rosie Naprivnik her first ride in the Preakness: 

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#6 was Oxbow, who would have 50-year-old Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens in the saddle.

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Will Take Charge would be #7 in the Preakness:

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Up next was #8, Govenor Charlie, a late addition to the Preakness field:

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And finally there was #9, Itsmyluckyday:

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After I watched the horses make their way to the track, it was time for me to follow suit; so I scooted as fast as I could over to my assigned spot in the winner’s circle and got ready to see the 138th winner of the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

As we got closer and closer to the start of the race, the tension and anticipation in the air became palpable even as the sweet sounds of “Maryland, My Maryland” filled the air. Finally, finally it was time for the Preakness! As the horses broke out of the starting gate a roar come form the crowd, putting goosebumps on my arms. There really is nothing like the feeling of listening to 117,000 voices raised up to encourage these horse and jockeys to run the race of their lives. 

And even though I was rooting for Orb in my heart of hearts, it was a thrill to see Oxbow win the race. Calumet Farm is one of the oldest and most recognizable Thoroughbred farms in Kentucky, D. Wayne Lukas is a legend among trainers and Gary Stevens is the ultimate comeback story. He’s fifty years old and came out of a seven year retirement this year. Amazing stuff!

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Here’s trainer D. Wayne Lukas making his way to the Preakness winner’s circle directly after the race; you can tell just how pleased he is to be making the trip to get his trophy!

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After the Preakness, I went down to the barn area to catch the action down there. This is another reason that the Preakness is so awesome – after the biggest race of the year, Pimlico lets any and all fans (provided they’re over the age of 21) into the stakes barn area for a major party. Drinks and food are on the house, and fans are allowed to wander around and see the best horses in the country up close and personal. I went over to Orb’s barn to see how he came out of the race, and he was enjoying a bath. In fact, as I walked up, he turned to look at me as if you say, “You again?!”

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The best part? Fans were invited to come up and give the Kentucky Derby winner a pat. How cool is that?

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Then I checked out the scene at the barn party. People coming from InfieldFest mingled with Kentucky bluebloods as box seat holders chatted with military personnel. Sam the Bugler was there, playing tunes for fans the whole time. It’s completely magical and weird and unique and awesome, and I can’t think of a single other sporting event where something like this happens. Seriously, if you haven’t been to the Preakness, put it on you list of things to do immediately. 

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As the sun set on Preakness Stakes day, I reflected how lucky we all are to have been here: the horsemen and –women, fans, media, trainers, jockeys and owners: there really is something incredible about the Preakness experience, and I can’t thank you enough for joining me to relive it all. I hope you enjoyed the race as much as I did, and I can’t wait for the circus to move to New York in three weeks so we can do it all again!

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Penelope Miller

I'm Penelope Miller and I'm the Senior Manager of Digital Media for America's Best Racing. I've been involved with the Thoroughbred industry for most of my life and I want to make sure that the great sport of horse racing is enjoyed by people all over the nation. Please share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comments section below!

Image Description

Penelope Miller

I'm Penelope Miller and I'm the Senior Manager of Digital Media for America's Best Racing. I've been involved with the Thoroughbred industry for most of my life and I want to make sure that the great sport of horse racing is enjoyed by people all over the nation. Please share your thoughts and ideas with me in the comments section below!

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