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Monday, April 24, 2006
Updated: June 4, 2:15 PM ET
Attending the Preakness

By Jeremy Plonk
Special to ESPN SportsTravel

Date of Inception: 1873. Two years before the Kentucky Derby, Pimlico introduced its new three-year-old stakes race.

Racetrack: Pimlico Racecourse, in Baltimore, Md.

Racetrack Location: 6 miles north of the Inner Harbor downtown area

Address: 5201 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, MD 21215

Official Web Site:

Race Dates:
2008: May 17
2009: May 16

Racetrack Info: Pimlico opened in 1870. The Victorian building was destroyed by fire in June 1966. A replica of the old building cupola was built to stand in the winner circle (located in the infield). The Old Clubhouse stood for 96 years as a sentinel at the foot of the homestretch.

Tickets: For information, go to the tickets page on

Fan Experience: Pimlico is nestled in an older, non-touristy neighborhood and the races serve as a stand-alone event for visitors, who come and go while enjoying other sections of the city. Like the Derby, it's an all-day event – expect to come early (8-9 a.m.) and stay late (7-8 p.m.).

Pimlico is not built for sightseeing and mingling, and is stretched to its functional limitations on Preakness Day. Come expecting great racing, but be patient with crowds.

The Preakness infield scene is considered even more debaucherous than the Derby by those who've braved both, and is almost exclusively patronized by twentysomethings.

Fashion: Like the Derby, it depends on the area of the facility. Those with reserved seats will be finely fashionable to business casual. Those in the infield, well, it's unofficially "clothing optional."

Drink: The Black-Eyed Susan is a mixture of vodka, light rum and Cointreau, along with pineapple juice and orange juice. Shake the ingredients, pour over crushed ice, garnish with lime.

Traditions: The Preakness' version of "My Old Kentucky Home" is "Maryland, My Maryland," the state song the old Baltimore Colts Marching Band pounds out (yes, they still exist).

The black-eyed Susan, the Maryland state flower, is nearly synonymous with The Preakness. The flower has yellow leaves and is black in the middle. After the race, the Preakness winner receives an arrangement consisting of about 2000 blooms sewn on to a mesh of black rubber and decorated with a variety of greens.

Later, the winning jockey's silks colors are painted on the infield cupola to fly over Pimlico for the next year.

Other Events: Check out the racing celebrity bartenders during the week at the nearby Mt. Washington Tavern, and maybe glean a tip or two from the race's jockeys and trainers.

The Preakness Celebration offers a weeklong events calendar complete with a parade.

Parking/Hotels: You'll find a fair amount of on-site parking at Pimlico, but it's truly best to avoid the congestion with a light rail trip/shuttle bus ride or metro subway/shuttle bus ride . Those services originate from parking lots at BWI Airport or Hunt Valley.

Many Preakness-goers stay 6 miles south of Pimlico in the downtown Inner Harbor hotels. Located 15 miles north of Pimlico, Hunt Valley offers several hotels out of the hustle-and-bustle of downtown. Hotels on nearby Reisterstown Road also are an option.

Nightlife Areas: Downtown Inner Harbor; Power Plant Live dining and entertainment complex is two blocks from harbor; also, Canton and Federal Hill areas downtown are filled with great local taverns.

Other Attractions: Inner Harbor, Camden Yards, Babe Ruth Museum and Fort McHenry all are mere miles from Pimlico in downtown Baltimore.

Restaurants: Bertha's (734 S. Broadway) in Fells Point is a landmark seafood stop, as is old reliable McCormick & Schmick's on Pier 5. Little Italy's row of offerings including Sabatino's (901 Fawn St.). Ruth's Chris Steak House (600 Water St.) speaks for itself.

Cheap Eats: Lexington Market, a stone's throw east of the Inner Harbor, offers great food from various local vendors and is a breakfast must. If cholesterol is not a concern, the fried chicken on-track at Pimlico may be the best at any racetrack in America.

Jeremy Plonk is the editor of Horseplayer Magazine and contributes regularly to

This is a reprise of an article that originally appeared in 2006.