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Preakness Hopes High, Despite Financial Woes

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Community members and organizers hope this year's event marks
a triumphant return for the Preakness Stakes.
Rebecca Sheir
Community members and organizers hope this year's event marks a triumphant return for the Preakness Stakes.

By Rebecca Sheir

In spite of financial woes that nearly led Pimlico to the auction block this year, the race course is gearing up for Maryland's signature sporting event: the Preakness Stakes. Community members, and organizers, hope this years event marks a triumphant return for the second jewel in horse racing's Triple Crown.

Susan Ciotola of Chase, Maryland, is visiting Pimlico for an afternoon race. She says she often came to Preakness as a teenager.

"And when I was little, I would watch it on TV with my grandfather and root, and cheer," says Ciotola, as the trumpet fanfare sounds over the course's loud speakers. "See, that gives me chills, just hearing that!"

And she says it gives her chills to think she might not hear it, if Pimlico goes under.

But Tom Chuckas, President of the Maryland Jockey Club, expects a major comeback for Pimlico, starting with this year's Preakness.

"The weathers supposed to be fantastic," says Chuckas. "We have two stages out there: one stage has OAR and Zac Brown. We changed the food this year, as opposed to us doing it, we went out in to the city state. So you have everything from crabs to just about everything you can imagine."

Chuckas says in the past the Preakness has put $6 to $10 million in the state's coffers and he's cautiously optimistic about this year's bottom line.

"I think the attendance and the wagering is gonna be really great," he says. "I would be optimistic, based on the economy, if I was at 8-million.

Susan Ciotola says she's optimistic too, mainly because she couldn't imagine Baltimore without Pimlico and the Preakness Stakes.

"The smell of the horses, and the little jockeys wave to you, you know, it's just the memories wrapped up here. Incredible," she says.

Post time for the Preakness is Saturday at 6:05 p.m. Pimlico's gates open at 8 in the morning.

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