A Historic Preakness Unlike Any Other
There is a rhythm to horse racing, like the beat of hooves down the backstretch.
Every year, the Kentucky Derby sets the stage, giving way to the Preakness Stakes, and finally, The Belmont Stakes. Winning the Derby, amid its pomp and ceremony, means horse, jockey and owner are all on the path to the prestigious Triple Crown.
And so every year, as the sport turns to Pimlico Race Course, the tantalizing possibility of another historic champion lives. Every year, like clockwork, the hype builds and history swirls around the Preakness.
There is nothing like a Triple Crown winner, after all, with 13 such champions dating back to the first in 1919 (the regally named Sir Barton). And, of course, there is no year like 2020.
For the first time, the Preakness was the final leg of the Triple Crown, coming four weeks after a Kentucky Derby delayed months by the coronavirus pandemic. And this year, as with so many sporting events around the country, there were no fans in attendance when Swiss Skydiver captured the 145th running of the Preakness.
FOX Sports was given an exclusive look behind-the-scenes at Pimlico, however, and wanted to share the experience, including this video tour from the grounds in Baltimore.
Although it might not be as well known for ostentatious accessorization as the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness itself is one of the biggest parties of the year.
In fact, the race has included an event called "Infield Fest" since 2010, which features marquee musical acts and has helped draw nearly 100,000 fans to the track annually – not to mention the untold thousands who congregate outside just to bask in the atmosphere.
But on this early October Saturday, where there would typically be lines extending as far as the eye could see and parties all outside the facilities, there was only quiet.
The scene was most striking at one of the track's main gates, which, instead of brimming with revelers waiting to enter, was barricaded and being used as a staging area for emergency vehicles.
At the entrance closest to the track's clubhouse, an almost foreboding calm belied the impending clash of half-ton thoroughbreds over 1 and 3/16 miles.
The most stark comparison, however, came in the infield, where two contrasting pictures are worth more words than could ever fit on this digital page.
Indeed, it is only with the throngs removed that one truly starts to get a sense of just how massive the facility is.
Were the fans missed? Absolutely. They elevate the Sport of Kings into a party shared by people across all facets of life.
But everyone involved treated Saturday as if it were as close to a normal Triple Crown race as possible. The grounds looked gorgeous, worthy of the fabled event and the majestic beasts that make it so thrilling:
And most importantly, the event itself was everything you'd want in a race, coming right down to the wire with the kind of edge-of-your-seat excitement unique to a Triple Crown extravaganza.
There's no doubt that once fans are allowed back, they'll throw a rager unlike any Pimlico has ever seen – and that's saying something. But for now, Saturday was truly a Preakness Stakes unlike any other.