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Pimlico prepares for a packed Preakness

A horse runs the sixth heat of the Black-Eyed Susan race.
Callan Tansill-Suddath
A horse runs the sixth heat of the Black-Eyed Susan race.

Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore is prepared to be filled with horsemen and spectators for the 147th Preakness Stakes Saturday after two years of toned-down events.

By mid-afternoon Friday, the track was packed for the Black-Eyed Susan Race, which takes place annually the day before the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Andrea Johnson, who has worked in various roles at the racetrack since 1997, said she is excited about the return to a complete event and expects crowds will not be deterred by a recent rise in COVID-19 cases or predicted sweltering temperatures.

“It's a lot of fun, you know, betting on the horses and stuff. And you get to meet so many different people. So I believe that they're gonna have a huge crowd tomorrow,” Johnson said.

Marilyn McIlvain from outside Lexington, VA, was sitting near the finish line during the Black-Eyed Susan. She has attended it and the Preakness for nearly forty years, and after last year’s scaled-down event, and 2020’s spectator-free race, she says she’s ready for the real thing.

“I was here last year, and it wasn't eerie but it didn't have the same enthusiasm,” McIlvain said, “The purpose of the crowd, the excitement wasn't quite as big as I'm hoping this year will be.”

Post time for the Preakness Stakes is 7:01 p.m.

Callan Tansill-Suddath is a State House Reporter for WYPR, where she covers the General Assembly.