Professional boxing, an all-you-can-eat pasta dinner and a fireworks display are among the new attractions planned this year for the Preakness Celebration, Baltimore's annual pre-race extravaganza, set for the week of May 9-17.
"This is the best Preakness Celebration that anyone will have ever seen," celebration president Barry Scher proclaimed at a press conference yesterday at the "Preakness Pub," usually known as the Oriole Bar at the Sheraton Inner Harbor.
The Pub, which will be costumed with horse racing memorabilia and will feature legendary jockeys as bartenders to raise money for charities, will be one of many sites transformed for Preakness week, beginning May 9 with the Preakness Crab Derby at Lexington Market and concluding May 17 with the 11 a.m. post time for the 122nd Preakness Stakes.
Returning events include the fourth annual Fila 5-K Preakness Run through the Inner Harbor and the annual Preakness Parade, which will feature U.S. Olympic gold medalists gymnast Dominique Dawes and swimmer Beth Botsford, both on May 10, and the May 15 Amoco Triple Crown Ball, which this year aims to raise more than $100,000 for the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and Peanut Allergy Research.
Additions to the Preakness Celebration include Preakness Pro Boxing, eight live professional boxing bouts scheduled for May 14, and the Baltimore Magazine Pasta Dinner May 9.
Also, in conjunction with the Baltimore Bicentennial, The Sun will present Preakness Eve Fireworks May 16.
Joe DeFrancis, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, noted that the nine days of festivities "will be raising money for some very charitable causes." These include the March of Dimes, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Disabled Jockey Fund, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and People Encouraging People.
Officials also reported that the nearly $1 million deficit run up by the 1995 celebration has been whittled down over the past two years to just $150,000.
Projected revenue for the 1997 celebration is more than $350,000, Scher said, adding that "all events in '97 are pre-sponsored," meaning most costs have been underwritten by major corporations and other institutions.
"We have worked out a financial plan and are on target with it," Scher said.
D8 "All debts will be paid off by the end of the year."
Pub Date: 4/19/97