VIP visitors drop in for day at racetrack

June 10, 2000|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

A sky tour of Baltimore turned into a day at the races for a group of Estonian officials, including the Baltic country's ambassador to the United States, after the helicopter they were riding in made a precautionary landing on the infield at Pimlico Race Course because of mechanical problems.

The Maryland Army National Guard helicopter landed on the northern end of the infield at 1:45 p.m., about 20 minutes before post time for the afternoon's first race. None of the 10 Estonians or the three crew members were hurt, said Capt. Drew Sullins, a National Guard spokesman.

On the ground, Estonian Ambassador Sven Jurgensonand the other foreign visitors ate lunch at Pimlico's dining room and watched the first few races on the 10-race card, said Chris Helein, director of corporate and racing communications for the Maryland Jockey Club.

"They're making the best of the situation, and they seem to be having a good time," Helein said.

The sudden landing came after a warning light indicated a potential problem.

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