There’s nothing like it. Anyone who has ever spent Preakness day on the infield at Pimlico probably has a story (or a dozen) to share about the experience — that is, if they can remember it.
Truth be told, InfieldFest isn’t for the person looking for a laid-back afternoon at the park. It’s a party. Hard stop. It also has a reputation of bringing out some of the best musical talent in the world, year after year, in a setting unlike any other.
This year’s InfieldFest is loaded with nationally and internationally acclaimed artists. DJ and producer Kygo, Grammy-winning DJ Diplo, and Grammy-nominated rapper Logic are set to headline the 11th-annual festival.
Without a doubt, 2019 represents once of the most star-studded gatherings of musicians to grace the infield at Old Hilltop. What makes InfieldFest 2019 even more of a can’t-miss event is that the long-range forecast shows lots of sunshine in it, which has certainly not always been the case in recent years.
Here’s our quick list on how to make the most of your InfieldFest ticket.
Arrive Early: Doors open at 9 a.m. ET, and trust us there will be hundreds of people waiting to get in when the gates open.
What that means is that if you don’t want to wait on an extremely long line, plan ahead. I’ve known people over the years who’ve arrived at 1:00 p.m. and they’ve had to wait for more than an hour to walk into the track. That’ll put you in a bad headspace and that’s not how you want to start out. So, arrive early, beat the lines, and give yourself some extra time to explore the scenery at InfieldFest.
Note: If you’re driving to the track, parking is available in Lots 4, 5, and 9. You can pay with cash on-site or pre-purchase parking at Preakness.com.
Claim Real Estate: Get in, get comfy, and settle in for a while. If you want to make sure you get a good spot within range of one of the stages or if you’d prefer to be nearer the racing action, you’ll want to do your best to either lay out a beach blanket that marks your spot.
If you’re wondering what else you can bring or shouldn’t bring, here’s a guide to the InfieldFest that includes a lot of helpful information including details on prohibited items: https://www.infieldfest.com/guide
Pace Yourself: It’s a long day. Seriously, it’s an extremely long day, and you want to be at Pimlico for as much of it as possible. So, dress comfortably and don’t go as hard as you might feel inclined to once you walk into the track.
Make the most of your day by exploring some of the local food and fare (see below) or pop into one of the handicapping or betting tents to pick up tips on how to play the races. There’s no need to jump right into shot-gunning beers at nine in the morning. I’ve been there. It doesn’t end well. Trust me.
Sample Some Food: What I miss most about living in Maryland is the food culture. I’m a big seafood guy, and there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned crab cake. This might be sacrilegious but I’m also a fan of lobster rolls (sorry to the purists — my wife — who grew up there). That said, at the Preakness I’ve always been able to find a great selection of savory items, as well as the usual sweeter snacks you’d expect at an event like this, including funnel cakes and the sort.
So, take some time out to do a few laps around the food stands in the infield. To my note above about pacing yourself, getting food (and water) into your system earlier in the day will serve you well as it gets later in the afternoon.
Prepare Your Bets: By the time the horses go to the gate for the Preakness Stakes (approximately 6:50 p.m. ET), you will have been drinking and dancing for multiple hours. Let’s be honest, by then you’ll be in no condition — and hardly focused enough — to sketch out and budget your bets.
Set aside about 20 minutes earlier in the day to pick your horses and plan your bets. You can either bet with a teller and stash away your tickets or you can go with another option (below) that’ll protect you from losing those tickets at some point during the day.
Bet from Your Phone: Preakness-hack from a veteran of the day, you can save yourself loads of time by downloading a betting app like the one offered by Xpressbet. While you may see some slowed down access on Wi-Fi with so many people in attendance, I’ve never had an issue betting from my phone.
You can also utilize the helpful Xpressbet Cheat Sheet on America’s Best Racing for a quick rundown of all the horses competing in the second jewel of the Triple Crown and the gambling calculator to check the cost of your bets in advance.
Immerse Yourself in the Madness: You’re going to be outdoors with tens of thousands of screaming fans. Once the music has started and your bets are in, just let loose. That means getting right in the middle of the crowd dancing along as the performers play. Or, if you prefer not being right in the middle of it, you can always jump up and down on the edges of the crowds surrounding the stages.
Step Away for Race Time: You don’t want to be that person who gets asked, “Who won the race?” and replies, “I don’t know.” It’s a bad look.
I know, it’s easier to just get caught up in everything else that’s going on but, believe me, you’ll absolutely love the excitement of hearing the crowd roar as the horses zoom past you.
There are lots of great views from inside the infield, including the backside (which is the opposite side from the where the finish line is located). If you want to be right up on the fencing that separates the infield from the track, you’ll have to be in position well before the race, but you can still catch a pretty decent look at things if you’re prepared for it at least 30 minutes before race time.