BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A big weekend for Baltimore and big weekend for horse racing as Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome won the Preakness Stakes and earned a shot at becoming the first horse in more than three decades to win horse racing’s coveted Triple Crown.
Derek Valcourt has more on the record-breaking Preakness weekend in Baltimore and the prospects for a Triple Crown winner.
Regardless of the outcome, the race itself does big business for Maryland but when the Derby winner also wins Preakness, it’s the sport of horse racing that really benefits.
A record-breaking 123,000 people packed into Pimlico to watch California Chrome win the 139th Running of the Preakness Stakes.
Those huge crowds brought upwards of $40 million worth of economic impact to the city and the state of Maryland, but it’s the prospect of having the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 that does wonders for the horse racing industry.
“It keeps the eyes on it, which keeps the attention and hopefully creates more customers and so on,” said Pimlico President Tom Chuckas.
Since 1978, 12 horses have won both the Preakness and the Derby but failed to win the Triple Crown. That’s only ever been done by 11 horses in history.
Racing fans in Baltimore are literally crossing their fingers.
“It’s a big race and we are hoping for a Triple Crown all right,” said Dave Gregg.
Now California Chrome heads off to the Belmont Stakes. Even though that race is hundreds of miles away, Maryland’s horse racing industry, and especially the folks right here at Pimlico, say they’ll still benefit.
“We’d have a nice day but our attendance will be two and a half times what it is without a Triple Crown winner. They’ll wager more; some people will actually come to Baltimore to wager on the races,” Chuckas said.
Count Mike Giordano in.
“I’m a better,” he said.
The Pimlico regular expects he’ll have a lot of company during the Belmont simulcast.
“A whole lot better, I think, because they think there’s going to be a Triple Crown winner. I guarantee you there’s going to be more people coming,” he said.
For now, the odds seem to be ever in California Chrome’s favor.
Belmont is the longest of the three races.
The Belmont Stakes happens three weeks after the Preakness. The race is set for Saturday, June 7.
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