« Today's random thoughts | Main | Schmuck headed for DL? »

May 3, 2009

Preakness ponderings

The owners of Mine That Bird are undecided about the Preakness, which is not great news for event organizers who already are reporting disappointing ticket sales and sponsorship revenues. Maryland Jockey Club officials are hoping for some help from the excitement generated by Saturday's heart-stopping Kentucky Derby, and it sure would help if the Triple Crown is still in play in two weeks.

Personally, I hope the horse comes to Baltimore, but I understand the owners are looking out for the best interests of the surprise Derby winner and also have concerns about the potentially adverse speed-bias at Pimlico. Mine That Bird is bred more for the Belmont Stakes, but it can't build on the history it made Saturday without running in the Preakness.

I have selfish reasons for wanting Mine That Bird to run at Pimlico. I'll be hosting the early Preakness coverage from the jockey's terrace on WBAL (1090 AM) and jockey Calvin Borel was a live guest after his last Derby victory. He's a trip and I'm hoping to have him back on the program for as long as he wants to be on.

Some readers felt like I read too much into the testy behavior of Mine's trainer, Bennie "Chip" Woolley, moments after his great victory. They may be right that Woolley had just grown tired of talking about the long drive he made from New Mexico or the motorcycle accident that put him on crutches. Trouble is, his unlikely rise from rodeo cowboy to Kentucky Derby-winning trainer -- and the unusual route he took to get into contention for the Triple Crown -- will still be the story when he gets to Baltimore, if he ultimately decides to run Mine That Bird in the Preakness.

Posted by Peter Schmuck at 10:06 PM | | Comments (17)


Unfortunately racing is a dead business and Pimlico is a dump due to years of neglect. The only reason there were these "huge" crowds for one race a season was a huge drunken party in which most had no clue there was even a race going on.
While I don't like to see jobs go away most of them at the track are very low end and seasonal.
I don't mean to rain on your parade but this "great" story doesn't need to be rehashed a million times as the media seems to do with stories endlessly.

Anybody else get a good laugh out of the slow ticket sales being blamed on the economy? The second they banned people from bringing in alcohol, I said they will be down 20-50%. I went in high school and sometimes in college (33 y/o now) for one purpose. It was the only place to legally drink when you were under 21.

Brad M is completely correct. I predicted that sales would be down 50-80% when I heard about the alcohol ban. I knew somewhere around 50 people that went to Preakness last year. NONE of them are going this year. I'm sure there are thousands of other groups of friends just like this...I think the organizers are going to be shocked by how few people actually went for the race.

If the horse doesn't show, I have no problem with it. I would hate to see a horse get hurt again if he is not in racing condition for this.

Brad- I do get a good laugh about the source of low ticket sales being the economy. The economy has very little to do with it, as you correctly stated. I would like to see info. on which ticket sales are down specifically, either grandstand or infield.

This is the only party that people from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Jersey, Virigina, and other surronding states plan on attending every year because of the old party policy. Truth is, anyone can go anywhere and see a rock concert and pay money for each beer. Now there is no appeal for people to travel two or three hours to come as the infield event is now on the same level as any other concert/party. $50 to get into the infield and then you gotta buy beer? Even water?

I say good riddance preakness, you have brought this upon yourself.

Yeah that's a joke if they think the ticket sales are poor because of the economy. I'm in college now and can tell you that new rule is keeping a lot of people from going. The last two years I've had literal busloads of friends from MD and even a number of friends from PA come to Preakness. People were road tripping across states because they heard it's such a good party! Now I honestly can't name a single person that I know who is going. If the Jockey Club wants to make money, get rid of that rule.

I, too, have selfish reasons for wanting Mine That Bird to run in the Preakness: I want to bet against him. I had the 2, 3, and 4th place horses on my trifecta ticket (along with Dunkirk). There is no way 'Bird can repeat that performance again in just 2 weeks, and I suspect the many inexperienced Preakness Day bettors will overbet him, and set up a true overlay in the pools. Can you say "Giacomo"?

You may well get your wish Pete, Calvin Borel and Bennie "Chip" Woolley, were being interviewed together on CNN this morning and when asked directly if Mine That Bird would run in the Preakness, Boral avoided the question but Woollley said that after a good early morning workout this morning as it stands right now Mine That Bird would be heading for Baltimore to compete in the Preakness.

Pete's reply: Glad to hear it, but only if it doesn't put the horse at risk.

Peter: Good News,l Mine that Bird is going to be here for the Preakness, can the horse pitch?

Well, not looking good for Rich Hill to get his start in down in Norfolk today. Pouring rain and thunderstorms in the forecast for the evening.


I agree with your statements on Wooley's attitude after the race. I was embarrased for him, he came off in an egotistical way. I went from being happy about the horse winning, to hoping it loses instantly. For history sake I hope it runs the Preakness, but personally I hope it loses. It's a shame people act that way.

MLB attendance is down, horse racing is down. Restrarunts and other businesses are reporting sales decline of 45%. Yes, the economy has some of the fault. Also, lets face the truth. The horse racing industry is just not as popular as it used to be.

Brad M,

I found it even more hilarious to hear the organizers blaming the slower ticket sales because there are no stand out horses this year. I attended the Preakness 6 times and never saw a live horse from my vantage point in the infield. Didn't care either.
Bet I'm not alone on this one. I wish they'd just be honest and state what they knew from the very start- Banning BYOB was going to alienate a huge portion of would be patrons but it had to be done because of safety.

What is going on at the sun? First all these layoffs, now they spell the derby winner "Mike that Bird" on the front page???

I don't want to pile on with the recent barrage of negative posts BUT

I kind of have a problem with George Sherrill's comments today in Jeff Zrebiec's column today. "Closer-by-committee doesn't work and won't work," Sherrill said. "We'll have to sit down and talk about it and figure out what to do."

What does he mean "we". He is the player not the manager. He should do what he is told, period. Talk about the inmates running the asylum. Oh, and George, as documented by Mr. Zrebiec, you have already had a chance to pitch yourself out of the closer role during the second half of last year and the first month of this season. Sherrill is a good pitcher - better suited for facing lefties - and he is important to have in the O's bullpen, but we should start seeing if someone else can step up to the closer role.

hey Schmuck with the MLB draft about a month away are you hearing anything about prospects the orioles might be interested in drafting?? what pick do the orioles have this year?

Here is the part of Preakness that I want to see. I might set-up a lawn chair and watch all of the people who bought tickets unaware of the rule changes get turned away. The arguements will be classic. Also, the banning of alcohol and coolers is going to ruin the 10-15 year olds economy. Where else are these kids going to make money carrying stuff for people?

I'm not a racing fan at all. Didn't even watch the Derby until all this hubbub started. Then watched it on YouTube and now believe the story is better than Seabiscuit's. The cheap horse, the Cajun jockey, the cowboy owners. Great stuff. Also, I can imagine all the guff these guys had to put up with among all the "blueblood" owners and trainers. Don't begrudge him a little "in-your-face" attitude.

Post a comment

Please enter the letter "v" in the field below:
About Peter Schmuck
Peter Schmuck wants you to know that, contrary to popular belief, he is more than just a bon vivant, raconteur and collector of blousy flowered shirts. He is a semi-respected journalist who has covered virtually every sport -- except luge, of course – and tackled issues that transcend the mere games people play. If that isn’t enough to qualify him to provide witty, wide-ranging commentary on the sports world ... and the rest of the world, for that matter ... he is an avid reader of history, biography and the classics, as well as a charming blowhard who pops off on both sports and politics on WBAL Radio. That means you can expect a little of everything in The Schmuck Stops Here, but the major focus will be keeping you up to the minute on Baltimore’s major sports teams and themes, whether it’s throwing up the Orioles lineup the minute it’s announced or updating you on the latest sprained ankle in Owings Mills. Oh, and by the way, that’s Mr. Schmuck to you.

Schmuck column archive

Upload a photo of yourself or a friend wearing the new Peter Schmuck T-shirt, which is on sale at

Most Recent Comments
Photo galleries

Search our new database for every home run hit hit by the O's and the opposition — home and away — since 1992.

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Sign up for FREE Orioles alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for Orioles text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Blog updates
Recent updates to sports blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected