Gov. Martin O'Malley meets with "I'll Have… (By Yvonne Wenger, The Baltimore…)
Gov. Martin O'Malley scored the behind-the-scene tour most Preakness fans wish for: an up-close look at the 11 horses in the Stakes Stables.
Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, walked the governor around the barns, packed high with hay and lined with flower baskets, that house the Preakness racers. O'Malley shook hands with the chiropractor and trainer for I'll Have Another.
"He's ready to go," Larry "Thumper" Jones, the chiropractor, said of the Kentucky Derby winner.
Doug O'Neill, the horse's trainer, said the racer's "gonna win." O'Neill showed off his shamrock tie to O'Malley and said they both had the luck of the Irish on their side today.
"We've had so much fun and we've been met with so much hospitality," O'Neill told the governor. "Thank you."
O'Malley said he sees Preakness as an excellent economic opportunity for Maryland with media broadcasting around the country and diplomats visiting from places including the United Arab Emirates, Denmark, China, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Canada.
"I am looking forward to showing off the city of Baltimore and the state of Maryland on a day when the eyes of the sports world are on Maryland," O'Malley said. "We have ideal weather -- never had better weather -- for the running of the Preakness. This is a great tradition."
Preakness is a cornerstone to Maryland's horse industry that supports 20,000 jobs and makes a $1.5 billion economic impact on the state, he said.
O'Malley's father-in-law Joe Curran, the state's former attorney general, and O'Malley's son, Will, 14, joined the governor for the stables tour.
Curran said he's attended Preakness since 1983.
His favorite part? "The excitement, the crowd, the business opportunity for Baltimore City. We're part of a very famous tradition," Curran said.
Will said he thinks Tiger Walk is going to score the win tonight. Curran said he'd love to see "I'll Have Another" seal up the Triple Crown.
As for the governor, he went the diplomatic route.
"I will certainly be betting on some combination of all of the Maryland horses," O'Malley said.
The governor said legalizeing slots in Maryland has helped the health of the horse-racing industry to a degree.
"The slots that are up so far in our states have actually helped boost some of the purses, attracting better horses," he said. "It's been somewhat of a help. It can be a bigger help as it is fully implemented."