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Preakness Weekend Kicks Off With Black-Eyed Susan Day

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s Preakness Eve, but Pimlico is already rocking. Black-Eyed Susan Day goes into the night–with horse racing to hip bands.

It’s the perfect precursor to Saturday, when more than 100,000 people turn out for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Christie Ileto has more on the building excitement.

The sights and sounds of Black-Eyed Susan Day beat strong into the night, as Counting Crows headlined Friday’s concert to hundreds of spectators at Pimlico’s Infield.

The day was packed with races, like the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes…

“I have bet. I have won a couple of races and I’ve lost a couple races,” said Lisa Raihall, spectator.

There was also a mile and one-eighth test for three-year-old fillies and a jockey challenge, bringing together seven hall of famers. A muddy track did not stop Maryland jockey Andrea Seefeldt Knight.

“You pull down the dirty [goggles] as you go. And I had one pair left when I got to the end,” she said.

She won the historic Lady Legends for the Cure race. It features retired female jockeys and was held one last time.

“When I thought I might get there, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m going to win!’ There’s nothing like it. Nothing like it,” Seefeldt Knight said.

There were cocktails…

“We’re drinking Black-Eyed Susans and it is yummy. Been drinking them all day long,” one woman said.

And who could ignore the fashion…

“It’s Black-Eyed Susan Day. It’s the Preakness. This is the way you dress,” said spectator Julie Maugnes.

Black-Eyed Susan Day is one of the oldest stakes at the track, gaining popularity over the years. Event organizers estimate between 40,000 to 50,000 people were there.

“There’s a rich history of the Preakness here in Maryland, and it’s just a great day out!”

Black-Eyed Susan Day also raises money for Susan G. Komen For the Cure and Baltimore-based Suited to Succeed.

“That’s why we support it more–because of charities. We like to give back to the community,” one woman said.

It’s a day of female empowerment…

“I think the horse industry is very man-based. There are a lot of men jockeys and there are a lot of men trainers and owners. So I think it’s awesome they’re trying to pull women in,” one woman said.

But for most Marylanders, the eve of Preakness is a longstanding family tradition—not to be missed before Pimlico’s biggest day of the year.

The goal over the next two years is to get 75,000 to 80,000 people out to Pimlico for Black-Eyed Susan Day.

Post-time for the actual running of the Preakness is 6:18 p.m. Saturday evening.

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