Pimlico gears up for the 143rd Preakness

Pimlico gears up for the 143rd Preakness

BALTIMORE (WBFF) - Preparations for the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes next Saturday are already in full gear at Pimlico Racecourse.

Live racing at the thoroughbred track in Northwest Baltimore resumed yesterday as part of the spring meet.

Karen Etheridge, who was among the small crowd Friday afternoon, said: "It's a beautiful day to be out here, the weather is nice, the atmosphere is festive and the excitement is about to come, the people are cordial, the staff is fantastic, and you can't ask for a better afternoon."

While Friday's turnout at the track was small, that will all change next Saturday.

Track officials will not say how many tickets have been sold to the Preakness, but a spokesman says sales are above last year on this date.

More than 140,000 fans turned out last year for the Second Jewell of racing's Triple Crown, which is an all-time record.

Michelle Leitner, who lives in Pennsylvania, says she has never attended the Preakness but would consider it.

"I would love to wear the dress, the hat, the high heels. I love the crowds, I like the action, I like the excitement," said Lietner.

But Elliott Gregory says he prefers to watch live racing at Pimlico on days like this rather than on Preakness Day.

"Maybe 10 years ago. I'm a little older now," he joked.

The Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico and Laurel Park, has committed to bringing the Preakness back to Baltimore in 2019, but there are no official plans beyond next year.

But Gifford Gregory, a racing fan who was at Pimlico Friday, says he hopes the big race will stay in Baltimore.

"To keep the Preakness here, like at Pimlico, would be a great thing, and that's the experience of it. Half of it is to come party and hang out and have that experience, besides the race, which is going to be awesome every year, of course," he said.

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