On May 19, I squeezed into the suit my sister bought me fifteen years ago and grabbed my Preakness ticket.
|The magic ticket.|
I cranked up my 2000 Lincoln, and though the car has clocked over 150,000 miles, the motor still kicks obligingly when I hit the pedal. Like a good old horse, the car ferried me to Harwood to meet my ride to the races.
My Turfside Terrace ticket included seats at a table near the finish line, a tasty meal, and more free water and sodas than I'd consume in a year. Booze, unfortunately, was extra, and my table was not the same as that of my traveling companions. But I counted my blessings. Especially when I discovered the people at my new table were all male and younger than me!
|Sasscer Hill intending to have fun!|
|Two of my table companions.|
|Four more of my table companions. Nobody had fun -- you can tell right?|
For a while, I sat with childhood friend Christy, and sports photographer Isabel Kurek. But mostly, I watched the track
|A turf stake on Preakness Day!|
|Horses ready to break on one of the undercard stakes.|
Not long before the Preakness and after an excellent meal, two vodkas, and two brownies, I decided to venture into the infamous Preakness Infield. Sadly, I didn’t find Kegasus.
But there there were plenty of other irrationally exuberant people and the way-cool band Maroon 5. I pushed my way as close as I could get to Maroon 5 as they performed live on stage, until the sweaty, often scantily-clothed-crowd closed in one me. It contained some interesting characters.
|The infield mob and the Maroon 5 stage.|
About the time I decided I might be past my rock-concert-prime, I spotted a man in a natty, green jacket who looked like he was attempting to escape. I inched over to him.
“You don’t look like you belong out here,” I shouted.
“Not really. I’m trying to leave,” he yelled back.
I hooked a few fingers on his sleeve and let him tow me toward the distant exit. About the time Maroon 5 began playing “Moves Like Jagger,” some gals in dresses with fancy hats, and a couple of sharp-dressed men materialized out of the crowd.
Next thing I knew, we'd had formed a conga line and were dancing our way to safety. We boogied right on out of there, and I have to confess it was the most fun I’ve had in some time.
|"The Man in the Natty Green Jacket," and other dancing escape artists.|
Then it was time to get serious. A Grade One, Triple Crown race was on the line. I was so close, I got a few pictures with my tiny camera.
|Bringing them over for the Preakness!|
|Mike Smith and Bodemeister|
Right before the race, one of the guys at my table looked up and said, “I’ll Have Another is going to win this race.”
The way he said it, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. Then I saw the horse in the post parade. He had his game face on. Anyone could see he intended to win!
And he did . . . .
|Matt Wooley catches the winner, and the winner catches Bodemeister!|