Day At The Races: Preakness Attendance Up, Handle Down From '10
Pimlico Race Course reported its "sixth-largest attendance and seventh-largest pari-mutuel handle" for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, according to Tom LaMarra of BLOODHORSE.com. Maryland Jockey Club officials said that 107,398 fans attended this year's Preakness, up from 95,760 in '10. Total handle on the 13-race card was $76,376,689, down from $79,248,002 last year. The attendance record of 121,263 was set in '07; the record handle of $91,028,704 came in '05 (BLOODHORSE.com, 5/21). Pimlico welcomed its "largest attendance in three years for the Preakness," and the "return to six figures following a historic attendance low in 2009 of 77,850 and 95,760 last year was a welcome sight" (THOROUGHBREDTIMES.com, 5/21). In DC, Robert McCartney noted MJC officials have "managed to pitch the race successfully to corporate executives and working people." The "well-to-do come to rub shoulders with the elite of Baltimore society and Maryland horse-country gentry," while the "hoi polloi come mainly to party." McCartney: "But the two worlds of the Preakness have something in common. In both, many in the crowd know little or nothing about horseracing. They come to one race a year -- the Preakness. And they come mainly for the scene" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/22).
WALKING THE PLANK: In N.Y., Melissa Hoppert profiled Under Armour President, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank, whose "love of Maryland and his penchant to fix what is broken led him to his latest project: restoring the state’s horse racing industry." Plank said, "I thought someone should do something to help put Maryland racing back on the map. And I looked around, and frankly I fit the profile." Plank's foray into racing "began in earnest in 2007, when he bought a symbol of the sport’s storied past, Sagamore Farm, once owned by the industry titan Alfred G. Vanderbilt." One of Plank's horses, Shared Account, won the $2M Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf in November. His goal is to "build a barn full of what he calls Sagamore horses, 'gritty underdogs that run hard and always grind it out.'" Plank hopes that fans "will follow his stable the way football fans root for their teams" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/21).