Maryland Jockey Club President Tom Chuckas said Saturday that the Preakness brand “has changed dramatically” in the last few years, citing an attendance bump in the infield celebration and increased security all around the racetrack.
“The crowd in the infield is up, and the wagers are coming in,” Chuckas said. “All in all, it’s pretty much what we expected, and we’ll continue to fine-tune it.”
Speaking with reporters just after the seventh race Saturday at Pimlico Race Cource, Chuckas acknowledged that the Jockey Club has sought to find a balance between catering to old-school horse racing fans and drawing in new crowds who could become racing enthusiasts.
“Truthfully, we’ve done a pretty bad job over the years, the last 20 years, of promoting horse racing,” Chuckas said. “There’s not been a younger demographic, so what do we do? We use the music and other entertainment to bring them into the facility and hopefully get them entertained and into racing.
“From the Jockey Club perspective, just to come one day — even though it’s great — really isn’t serving our purpose for the longer term. So if I can get two percent, three percent, five percent coming back out of that infield on a semi-regular basis, that’s the added benefit.”