Preakness Belongs in Baltimore
That’s not to say the Preakness is a more prestigious race than the Kentucky Derby or a better event because it absolutely is not, but that the Preakness is so beloved is a strong testament to both the Thoroughbred and gambler’s place in Maryland.
For all the talk of how great the Saratoga cards are (and they are) or the new Belmont Stakes day program (and it is), it’s easy to forget that the Preakness is either the second or third-most bet on race in the Western Hemisphere depending on whether there’s a Triple Crown on the line three weeks later.
All that is to say, it’s not going anywhere without consideration and (if it does in fact go somewhere) a fight from the City of Baltimore at least and maybe the state.
Of course it will get that consideration from Maryland Jockey Club stakeholders, but as great as the improvements at Laurel are and that a further expanded facility there could lead to other events such as the Breeders’ Cup, it’s really difficult for me to see Baltimore giving up the Preakness Stakes.
Baltimore is part of the (pardon the pun) charm of the Preakness. National Bohemian (Natty Bho) beer, crabs, and diners are all a part of the fun. It’s hard to envision how that would transfer to Laurel.
And all of the above is just periphery to a race in which the winner has gone on to win champion three-year-old male (or female) 12 of the past 14 years, including Horses of the Year Point Given, Curlin, Rachel Alexandra, and California Chrome.
If it’s possible for a $1.5-million Grade 1 classic to be underrated then the Preakness probably is. Speaking of it in the same breath as the Travers Stakes is just silly considering the recent history, but it happens all the time.
Results like that deserve racing’s brightest spotlight. It doesn’t have to shine on Old Hilltop, but it will always burn bright in Baltimore.