Updates from the 135th Preakness Stakes

May 15, 2010|By The Baltimore Sun

Moving on up to the grandstands

Updated 3:35 p.m. | The two twenty-something friends stood by the rail overlooking the track, one sipping her Black Eyed Susan and adjusting her fancy hat.

Ursula Villar, 28, and Keisha Campbell, 29, had just dined on crab cakes and steak in the CBS corporate tent. It was the first Preakness for both. After this, the infield just won't be an option.

"We now expect VIP treatment," said Villar, who works in marketing for Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake.

"Where's the red carpet?" joked Campbell, who works in admissions at the University of Baltimore.

Villar said she planned to place some bets on a later race.

"I like the long shots and any horse with a funny name," she said. But even better than the chance to win, there's the chance to dress up.

"You have an excuse to wear a fancy hat that I'll never wear again," she said.
-- Lorraine Mirabella

O'Malley is partial to O'Prado

Updated 3:10 p.m. | Hours before the Preakness Stakes, Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, gave Gov. Martin O'Malley a tour of the stables. The duo strolled toward the Stakes barn, which O'Malley later described as "chapel-like calm."

"We're trying to give the horses their space," O'Malley said. They peered inside the long green barn and saw the stables of First Dude and Paddy O'Prado. The latter horse is an O'Malley family favorite, given their Irish Heritage. O'Malley's 14-year-old niece, a horse rider herself, Theresa Schempp, 14, accompanied the group. "Irish all the way," she said when asked why she favors Paddy O'Prado. But O'Malley said "part of me wants Super Saver" to win, because of the possibility of the Triple Crown.

Todd Pletcher, who trained Derby winner Super Saver, shook hands with the governor, who congratulated the New York-based trainer. "Are you feeling good?" O'Malley asked him. "Yes, sir, very good," Pletcher replied.
-- Julie Bykowicz

Hold on to your hat; It's a little windy

Updated 2:50 p.m. | Sunny skies, warm but not-too-warm temperatures and a light breeze had many Preakness attendees commenting on the perfect weather. But the breeze proved a bit too strong at times for women in hats, particularly the broad-brimmed variety worn in the fancy, corporate area of the infield.

Geri Welch, 49, of Hampstead, had to keep one hand on her wide black hat with black feathers to keep it atop her head.

A real hat lady -- her mother and grandmother would have qualified -- would know how to take care of that problem. But Welch, who works at a lawn-care company and sports baseball caps the other 364 days of the year, didn't dare resort to the hat pins they used.

"I'm not brave enough to stick hat pins in," she said. "I'd end up poking myself."
-- Laura Vozzella

For Preakness bugler, practice makes perfect

Updated 2:43 p.m. | How'd Preakness bugler Sam Grossman get to old Hilltop?


"I wish I could tell you I wandered into a pawn shop after a few martinis, picked up this shiny thing, called my mom and said, 'I think I'm the bugler at the racetrack,'" Grossman, 44, of Long Island.

The guy who will play the call to the post 13 times Saturday on a herald trumpet festooned with a Preakness flag has undergraduate and master's degrees in music. He was teaching music at a Catholic school in New York before he tried out 17 years ago to be a race bugler -- a job that came open up there when the incumbent hit the Big Six.

He's been playing at three New York tracks ever since, and for the past three years, has come down to Maryland to be Preakness bugler, a job he does in traditional English fox-hunting costume of white britches, red blazer and tie.

"A 12-year-old could play that one tune," he said. "But the thing I told them is, 'I'll show up every day.'"
-- Laura Vozzella

Surreal scenes from the infield

Updated 2:18 p.m. | In the infield, three blondes sat with green cloths draped around their necks, as if they were about to get haircuts or a touch-up on their roots.

Their images were projected onto a screen and, through the magic of "green-screen technology, their heads appeared atop three shimmying bodies dancing to the Black-Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow."

They left with free DVD copies of their performance.

Meanwhile, young people bellied up to an oxygen bar and willingly strapped on the sort of plastic facial tubing that looks so sad in a nursing home but passed for hip in the Preakness infield.

They breathed in and got what was supposed to be an energizing breath of fruity, fresh oxygen.

"Lavender was OK. Spearmint burns your nose," declared Mark Rettig, 31, an arborist from Baltimore County,. "I think it's a farce but you've got to try everything once."

Mike Schifano, 23, a Penn State college student who lives near Scranton, took a breath of the allegedly almond-scented oxygen. It was billed as an appetite suppressant.

"That's a good thing. I'll save money," he said.

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