Reporting Ron Matz
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It was the fourth biggest crowd in Preakness history, and they wagered nearly $82 million on the day.
Ron Matz reports while basking in the glow of Saturday’s success, major renovations are in the works for old hilltop.
By any measure this year’s Preakness was a resounding success.
“I had some concern with the weather, that it would put a real damper on the day, but the people turned out,” said Tom Chuckas, president of Maryland Jockey Club. “Obviously, the work we’ve done with the brand has turned things around. It was just amazing. I don’t think I’ve had a better day in the 5 or 6 years I’ve been here.”
From the infield to all around the track, a feeling Maryland racing is on the upswing.
The Friday before Preakness is also becoming a major event. Nearly 40,000 people attended Black-Eyed Susan Day this year.
“I was happy with the crowds Friday,” Chuckas said. “When I look at Black-Eyed Susan Day it’s about women and women’s empowerment. We’ve turned things around on Friday. We had 32,000 people last year, nearly 40,000 thousand this year.”
And Pimlico says the days will get better with some major renovations down the road.
“The Preakness has turned around. The atmosphere and the attitude people have coming here. It’s not the wild, wild west anymore. It’s a place you want to be at and be treated well,” Chuckas said.
And with 117,000 at Old Hilltop Saturday, Pimlico looks to the future.
“You can rest assured the infield will be open again on Friday next year,” Chuckas said. “It has a potential to grow. I think in 2 or 3 years we can do 70 to 80 thousand.”
Mark your calendars. Next year’s Preakness is all set for Saturday, May 17.