Thoroughbred racing is often thought of as a refined event; an afternoon staple activity for oil barons and ladies with really really big hats. But while the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore is one of the most popular... ... read more
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Thoroughbred racing is often thought of as a refined event; an afternoon staple activity for oil barons and ladies with really really big hats. But while the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore is one of the most popular horse races in the world – second only to the Kentucky Derby – it’s also one helluva drunken show.
So much so that a lot of people don’t even make it to the racing part. Or care.
Held on the third Saturday in May at the Pimlico Race Course, the Preakness Stakes has been an annual event since 1873, and features colts and geldings racing 9.5 furlongs – 1 3/16 miles – for the Preakness Stakes prize purse of $1 million.
A horse that wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes in June earns the US Triple Crown, something only 11 horses in history have ever achieved.
It’s highly doubtful, however, that all or even most of the 100,000+ spectators at the Preakness Stakes are aware of this little thoroughbred factoid, for several hours before the horses even show up, you will find the Pimlico Race Course infield awash in rowdy twentysomethings slinging $20 bottomless beer mugs, hooting over bikini contests, and dancing their drunken hearts out to lots of live bands.
There’s even Kegasus, a half beer-bellied man, half horse mascot, whose catchphrase sums up the inebriated festivities perfectly: “A 10-hour party to celebrate a two-minute race. Now we’re talking.”
Preakness Stakes admission starts at $40 and increases to $60 the week/day of the race. There are also a number of clubhouse and box seat packages available for those who actually plan to watch the horses in style.
Whether the Preakness has devolved into an all-out party that demeans horse racing or evolved into the perfect combination of sports and suds is a matter of opinion. But one thing is for sure, if you’re in Baltimore in May, the Kegasus’ call will be hard to resist.