The annual party at Pimlico's Preakness Stakes is hard to top. (Photos by Eclipse Sportswire unless otherwise noted)
Water? Check. Comfortable shoes? Check. Sunglasses? Check ... and so your list should go if you happen to be planning to party at the Preakness Stakes this Saturday. Oh, let me not forget the Red Bull and the aspirin to combat your two biggest enemies this week: fatigue and a potential hangover. But seriously, there are so many things to see and do at the Preakness, so let's get to it.
InfieldFest has taken on a life of its own over the years and a major contributing factor has been the musical acts the event has attracted. Previous performers include Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, Pitbull, Zac Brown Band, Z.Z. Top, Train, Lorde and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
This year's lineup is headlined by one of the most popular electronic music disc jockeys in the world, Armin van Buuren. How popular? His State of Trance radio show has an estimated 30 million weekly listeners. He was also awarded "Best Podcast" and he has one particular YouTube video with more than 100 million views.
ARMIN VAN BUUREN
Photo by Wikimedia Commons
Another one of the big names you'll find at the Preakness this Saturday is Childish Gambino. His album "Because the Internet" was Grammy-nominated for Best Rap Album. The multi-talented performer whose real name is Donald Glover is also a writer, actor and comedian.
The remainder of Saturday's lineup includes Easton Corbin, Trampled by Turtles and A Thousand Horses. If you can make it to Pimlico on Friday, the infield concert will feature several other popular performers. Friday's lineup is headlined by the Gin Blossoms and will also feature performances from Fuel, Vertical Horizon, The Reagan Years and Margaret Valentine.
If there's one thing that just about everyone loves about Maryland it's the food - specifically, the seafood. At the Preakness, you'll find food stand after food stand selling local favorites like crab cakes and lobster rolls. You'll also find some great grub being sold by food trucks like Greek on the Street and others.
Pimlico doesn't allow alcohol to be brought into the track (since people used to get a little too rowdy when Preakness was BYOB) but there are cost-effective ways to get your drink on at the Preakness. The track sets up several beer filling stations that you have unlimited access to with a Mug Club ticket, which basically gets you a refillable mug for Preakness day. There's also a Mug and Vine Lounge, where admission includes bottomless beer or wine.
GYRO AND BUTTERFLY FRIES
Photo courtesy of Victoria Garofalo
Of course, on both Friday and Saturday, you won't have any trouble finding a stand selling black-eyed Susans, the signature drink of the Preakness.
Like all major racing events, there are no rules when it comes to fashion. I, personally, have been known to wear a fedora, bow tie, seersucker coat and salmon colored pants - all at the same time. That said, I'm no expert when it comes to matching clothing or pulling together an outfit that's going to get you on the cover of GQ. My simple advice would be to wear whatever is comfortable and makes you feel good.
On Friday at Pimlico, the featured race is the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes for the fillies and the color of the day is pink. Everyone is encouraged to wear at least one article of clothing that has some pink in it. You can also pick up a pink bracelet at one of the stations representing the Maryland Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Pimlico packs a huge punch into both its Friday and Saturday race cards, featuring a total of 16 stakes races culminating in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes Saturday evening. If you're planning on partying in the infield, there's a good chance you'll miss quite a few of those races. When you're drinking, dancing and doing whatever else, the last thing you want to do is misplace a winning ticket. So, I'd suggest placing your bets early (assuming you're fine with not waiting to see your horse on track and their odds just before post time) and securing those tickets in a safe place.
CALIFORNIA CHROME WINS THE 2014 PREAKNESS STAKES
I've only partied on the infield at Preakness once, it was in 2004. My top priority was finding a good spot to watch Smarty Jones win the second leg of the Triple Crown. So, while I did have my "fun" over the course of the day, I made sure to post up against one of the infield fences early enough to secure my view for the big race. I also chose a spot where I could see the video board, since you'd be otherwise hard pressed to follow your horse all the way around the track from any one spot in the field.
Ultimately, it's hard to not have a great time at the Preakness. If I were to suggest a basic Preakness survival guide checklist, it would be to come with the following:
1. A fixed budget
2. Comfortable shoes
3. Sunglasses/hat (to guard from the sun)
4. Rain poncho (just in case)
5. Pens (for handicapping and networking)
6. Aspirin (seriously, you'll need it)
7. Water or side cash for water
8. Mophie (portable charger for your phone battery)
9. Emergency credit/debit card (in case you don't stick to that fixed budget)
10. A positive attitude