Building a Preakness for all Baltimore

From the Baltimore Banner

Despite growing up across the street from Pimlico Race Course, Aimee Ringgold for years never attended any official events associated with the Preakness Stakes.

Although the historic race is open to the public, she didn’t feel the race or the events surrounding it were marketed to her.

“It’s something in your neighborhood. I just wasn’t exposed to that, and I literally lived across the street,” said Ringgold, a 49-year-old upper Park Heights resident who is Black. “None of my friends ever went. And we had a lot of kids in my neighborhood. I never saw them going over there.”

That changed last year when she attended the track’s George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, which featured the AfroPreak Lounge, a curated pavilion with DJs, food and a cash bar. Tickets for that experience start at $200 per person.

The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the famed Triple Crown, attracts tens of thousands of people to Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore. But the racial optics of the big day have reflected a noticeable divide between the city’s white and Black populations.


Organizers believe features such as AfroPreak Lounge, along with other initiatives to attract more diverse crowds, are starting to pay off.

“The truth is, we have always been at the Preakness but on someone else’s terms,” said Derrick Chase, one of the organizers of AfroPreak Lounge. “Now, as we have evolved as a people, we should be at the Preakness, but not just by selling peanuts and parking cars. We should show our sophistication. We have always been a colorful and flavorful people. With us being at Preakness on our terms, it makes Preakness better. It’s good for Preakness, and it is good for Baltimore.”

Read more at The Baltimore Banner. The Baltimore Banner is an editorial partner with The Racing Biz