The pandemic wreaked havoc in the Triple Crown schedule in 2020. The Belmont Stakes, usually the final stages of the Triple Crown, were held in New York in June, the Derby in September, and the Preakness, usually the second of the three races, came in October. None of them allowed spectators. This year, everyone has returned to their usual places on the calendar.
Attendance at the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico on Friday and at the Preakness on Saturday was limited to 10,000 fans each, a figure that includes those in the usually ominous field. This is a little less than 10 percent of the track’s normal capacity. (The announced crowd of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs last week was 41,472, and for the Derby the next day it was 51,838, almost a third of the usual capacity of the venue.)
The Pimlico site is divided into different spectator sections, and no crossing is allowed. Temperature checks and questionnaires to determine coronavirus exposure are applied at the gates, and moving movements, plexiglass barriers and hand disinfection stations will be placed around the track. Despite the latest CDC guidance, masks are necessary if you do not eat or drink, and “Covid compliance officer” reminds guests to comply with the policy. Signs along the track promoted Maryland’s vaccination program.
The weather, like Friday, was in the mid 70’s and sunny. Sellers walked through the stalls selling $ 15 Black-Eyed Susans which, according to one, was “guaranteed to improve your luck at the betting window.
Ellen Charles, a granddaughter of Marjorie Merriweather Post, heir to the Post grain fortune, and a daughter of Adelaide Close Riggs, a breeder and owner described as ‘one of the great ladies of Maryland racing’, are already coming since her child after the Preakness a young child. On Saturday, she sits with friends and co-owners in an owner’s closet at the finish line.
She said she usually leaves before the Preakness is even run, to avoid the traffic on the way back to Washington, where she lives. But with the limited number of fans this year, she considered staying for the tent for the tent.
“This is heaven,” she said.