This is an unfair battle because I've never actually been to the Kentucky Derby or The Belmont Stakes. BUT WAIT, I have been to the "middle child" of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing Family, most commonly known as The Preakness Stakes. It's only been 2 years since we saw American Pharaoh win the Triple Crown (by winning all 3 races), but before that, it had been 37 years since since that happened.
I attended the 141st Preakness in Baltimore last year and despite the 100% chance of rain, me having difficulty finding a cute hat and dress, and my favorite contender (Exaggerator) not being the winner of the Kentucky Derby, I was excited for the experience. While you may have missed your chance to attend the 2017 Kentucky Derby (spoiler alert: Always Dreaming won), you still have time to attend the Preakness. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should attend.
1. Its Longer than 2 Minutes
The Kentucky Derby is called The Most Exciting 2 Minutes in Sports for the amount of time it takes the winning horse to run from the start to finish line. I know, this is only pertaining to the big race of the day, but people (including me) may not realize that there is more money to be had in the races prior. The moment you enter the doors of the Preakness, betting becomes your priority. With a free Wagering 101 sessions, to the folks at the wager windows asking you which race you are betting on, it will be hard for you to resist the urge to engage in the other races.
2. Party at the Infield Fest
Unlimited beer with the Mug Club, food trucks, nationally known musical artists, and the biggest party you will ever be a part of, the Infield could be considered the fishbowl of the Preakness. Located in the middle of the track, this is a place that doesn't take itself too seriously. Onlookers from the stand with regular tickets have direct access to the fun, if/when they find themselves with little to do. Pack your rain boots, cause it gets muddy.
3. Mug and Vine Club
I'll be honest, the Infield can get a little crazy, so if you're like me and can only take your mania in small doses then the Mug and Vine Club is your best option. Located inside the infield at the top of the stretch, this covered space offers unlimited wine, water, beer, a cash bar, picnic lounge and its own set of bathrooms. Its a balance of infield fun with the calmer atmosphere of Turfside Terrace or sitting in the grandstand.
4. Visiting Baltimore
You cant just attend the Preakness and leave, Baltimore is a great city that offers a variety of things to do. You can use your Preakness winnings (or earn some spending money) at the Horseshoe Casino, eat great food at One Eyed Mike's (you cannot go wrong with the Meatball Sub), and go horse themed bar hopping at The Admiral's Cup or The Horse You Came In On Saloon. Come in on a Friday or leave on Sunday, but either way, you have to make time in your travel schedule to explore.
5. Hats, Dresses and Black Eyed SUSAN'S
How often do you see a mint julep on a menu, pretty frequently right? But when have you seen a Black Eyed Susan, likely never. Not only is the Black Eyed Susan Maryland's state flower, its also a drink (of bourbon and vodka), that in my opinion taste much better than the Mint Julep. If crowds aren't your thing and you just want to avoid the Preakness altogether but still want the horse race (and dressing up) experience, you can attend Black Eyed Susan Day. Always held the Friday before the Preakness, this is a great time to have an Ultimate Girls Day Out.
Unfortunately, I wont be able to attend the Preakness this year due to this thing called having a "busy" life, but what I will be doing is betting. Whether you bet in person, or online, take this 1 piece of advice; go with your gut. I predicted Exaggerator winning the 2016 Preakness (and told everyone I know) and then bid on Nyquist instead. Biggest mistake ever, Exaggerator won, and so did everyone I told. Hopefully my mistakes, and the 5 reasons above, will get you excited for this years race!