Preakness Notebook

Pimlico Proves a Corporate Hit

By John Scheinman
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, May 20, 2005

BALTIMORE, May 19 -- No longer content with just an infield beer bash, a packed grandstand and some high-end corporate tents, Pimlico officials chased high-end patrons this year with exclusive seating and found a hungry market.

"We are sold out of every single solitary thing that we've had historically and everything new we've added," Executive Vice President Karin De Francis said.

New for this year are Preakness Village climate-controlled "chalets" in the infield, costing $34,500; 700 new bleacher seats at the top of the stretch costing $100 apiece; clubhouse turn "sky suites" costing $25,000 as well as additional reserved seating and turf-side terrace seating.

"We're up from 891 seats to 1,200 [in the turf-side terrace], and I could have added a fifth unit and sold it out," De Francis said. "But I'm conservative, and that's my nature."

Fans who pay $50 for infield tickets will find much of their view of the track obstructed by the new seats, but they will be able to see the races on giant screens.

"We've sold $2.1 million [in tickets] this year versus $1.5 million last year," said Jim Gagliano, executive vice president in charge of Maryland racing. "That doesn't include infield tickets or Ticketmaster totals."

Funny Cide in the Special

Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, faces seven other runners Friday in the Grade I $500,000 Pimlico Special Handicap, a race won by legendary runners such as Seabiscuit, Citation and Cigar.

Funny Cide, who hasn't run since finishing 10th in the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 30, is listed at 5-1 in the morning line. He scratched out of the Special last year because of an off track and wet weather is expected again.

The race highlights a 12-race Black-Eyed Susan Day card that features five stakes races. Champion filly Ashado, who won the Breeders' Cup Distaff last year but finished fifth in her seasonal debut in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park, is the 3-5 favorite to win the Grade III $150,000 Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff.

The top jockeys in the country -- Jerry Bailey, John Velazquez, Gary Stevens, Edgar Prado and others -- are in town to ride.

One-Liner Leatherbury

Disregarding Wayne Lukas, who told a blue joke as if he were working an adult cabaret, trainer King T. Leatherbury got off the best line at the Alibi Breakfast on Thursday morning at Pimlico.

Host Chris Lincoln asked Leatherbury, who hasn't run a Preakness horse since I Am The Game in 1985, where he's been.

"I've been around . . . watching," Leatherbury said. "My objective [with Malibu Moonshine] is to run second and have the winner disqualified because that will make up for all the times the stewards took me down." . . .

Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo got his first look at the Pimlico dirt course Thursday morning, galloping an easy 1 1/2 miles under exercise rider Frankie Herrarte.

"He was comfortable on the track," trainer John Shirreffs said. "He wasn't looking at all the tents in the infield." . . .

Pimlico has increased security, putting a 24-hour watch on the horses entered in the Preakness Stakes this week to watch for potential medical violations.

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