The Preakness: Last year I went to the Preakness and I was looking forward to witnessing the infamous infield party that I had heard so much about. I was told it was extremely wild. I had heard about port-o-can races in which people raced across the top of the portable bathrooms lined up in areas of the infield. What I learned was that, not only did people race, but spectators routinely threw beer cans at the racers in a make-shift game of a shooting gallery. When I got to the infield, it was very sparsely attended. Apparently local officials felt that the infield, which was said to have reached numbers of 60,000, was too wild. Last year, they disallowed attendees from bringing their own beer. Infield tickets were priced at $50. I thought that I saw a pack of cigarettes priced at $10. One blogger claims that there were specials of $1 pints of beer available, but I tend to recall witnessesing something closer to the Washington Post’s story that asserted beer was sold at $3.50 for a 16 oz beer. They had concerts all during the races with some bands that I did not know. There was a big stage with huge monitors pointed away from the main grandstands and away from the VIP tenst set up adjacent to the front stretch on the infield. ZZ Top was the headliner in the afternoon. I think I got the treat of seeing the “little old band from Texas” with about 200 other people. Beyond the dearth of people, what else that was interesting was that how the grandstands could barely hear anything that was going out over the speakers. Attendance was down 31%. I believe that the number at Pimlico was about 77,000 whereas in 2008 the attendance number was about 112, 000.
So, this year they are modifying the policy. Infield goers still can’t bring their own beer, but the ticket price has been lowered to $40. Also, the Washington DC NBC affiliate reports that revelers will be permitted to drink all the beer that they want after purchasing a mug for $20. You can also bring in picnic lunches. Sorry, no thermoses. They are also going for bands that might be more attractive to younger patrons with the Maryland band O.A.R. as well as a country music entry, Grammy Award winners the Zac Brown Band. The story ends with a Pimlico official as saying that ticket sales are outpacing last year. That in itself shouldn’t be too difficult. The real question is how much higher is the sales pace? This blog claims that “Sanity reigns at the Preakness.” The organizers hope that sanity still reigns on the infield because, in spite of the liberalized pricing policy, they still have rules at Pimlico. Regardless of where you are at Pimlico to see if Calvin Borel can win the second leg of the Triple Crown, the weather will be outstanding.
Preakness Stakes 2010 Weather Forecast for Pimlico: The general pattern of disturbed weather is mainly for the Midwest and part of the Ohio Valley as there is a big trof that will be slowly moving west to east and little waves of energy will be ejecting from the Southern Plains to the Northeast. As the trof moves East, the shower activity will move with it. However, the shortwave energy will not be rounding about as the mean trof approaches the Mid-Atlantic. Hence, while scattered showers and t’storm will be possible for Thursday and Friday with Friday being the best chance for thunderstorms around the track, I see nothing in the data that suggest much of severe weather. The main storm track will be well to the Northeast such that the risk for severe weather will be in the Ohio Valley and points North for Thursday into Thursday night.
The front eases through Baltimore on Saturday morning, probably before daybreak. From that point forth, high pressure will be building in with drier air filtering in. The NAM vertical profile suggests that in the early to mid afternoon there may be a relatively thin cloud deck at 5000 feet. The GFS also has a layer of higher moisture at that level but does not indicate a solid deck. Guess here is that it’s partly cloudy at best. The high continues to build in throughout the day on Saturday from the Northwest. I would think that there might be a breeze from the the North and then Northeast with relatively low humidity. Preakness post time temperatures will be running in the mid 70’s. While there will be a risk for rain on Thursday and Friday, I see nothing that suggests anything overly excessive and the drying trend on Saturday I would think would result in a relatively fast track, certainly nothing like the mud that we saw at the Kentucky Derby. Final hint: Bet Big, Win Big.