Harford man pleads guilty in storming track at Pimlico

Probation seen likely in Preakness Day incident

November 19, 1999|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

The Harford County man who raised his fists against a charge of thoroughbreds in the homestretch at Pimlico Race Course on Preakness Day pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, according to Baltimore court officials.

The city state's attorney's office said Lee Cheng Ferrell, 22, entered the guilty plea on Tuesday before Judge William Quarles in Circuit Court.

As part of an agreement with the Bel Air resident, prosecutors will recommend a three-year suspended sentence and five years' probation. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 18.

Ferrell, who said he was drunk and has no recollection of the incident, slipped past security during the seventh race May 15 and staggered from the infield to the track's inside rail. Ducking under the rail, he then walked onto the track and stood with fists raised in the air as the horses galloped toward him. Jockeys swerved to avoid hitting Ferrell, who apparently tried to punch a pair of horses as they passed.

The featured race -- the 124th running of the Preakness, the second jewel in racing's Triple Crown -- was the 10th race of the day.

Cheng was originally charged with trespassing, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and alcohol-related offenses.

On the day of the incident, Ferrell told police that he was on prescription drugs to combat depression and seizures and had stumbled onto the track hoping to kill himself.

After the incident, defense attorney Frederic C. Heyman said of his client: "Certain events in his life cause him to lose touch with reality."

Heyman could not be reached for comment last night.

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