Professional sports have become big business in the America of the 1990s. And no sports day means more to the economies of Baltimore and Maryland than the annual running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. It is the showcase for this state's $1 billion-a-year horse-racing industry. And it is the one day every year when we get to show off the excitement and beauty of Pimlico and the metropolitan area.
This year's Preakness Celebration festivities have eclipsed prior shindigs in the breadth of the entertainment and statewide nature of the events. For instance, not only is Maryland hosting the Preakness tomorrow, it is also sponsoring the Olympic trials for whitewater slalom racing north of Bloomington on the Savage River in Garrett County and the largest East Coast bluefish tournament on the Chesapeake Bay.
The biggest event, though, is the Preakness. This is the 117th running of the race for the highly prized Woodlawn Vase. It is distinctive among the three events that make up racing's Triple Crown for 3-year-old thoroughbreds. It is shorter than the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont Stakes. And the turns at Pimlico are far tighter than at Churchill Downs or Belmont Park. With the biggest field in years (14 starters), half of whom did not run in the Derby on May 2, this figures to be a wide-open race. It is a horse-player's delight.