Race to Preakness: A Baltimore Celebration Offers Food, Fun and Festivities Leading up to the Big Race

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Race to PreaknessThe winning horse in the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes won’t cross the finish line until shortly before 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, but Baltimore-area residents won’t have to wait until then to start celebrating.

Race to Preakness: A Baltimore Celebration aims to fill the week before the race itself with a variety of fun, food, and festivities.

Presented by the City of Baltimore and produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, the five-day celebration features a full slate of events designed to “fast track your Preakness fun.”

While the race itself takes place at Baltimore’s historic Pimlico Race Course, Race to Preakness events will be held across the city. Parks, plazas and public spaces will play host to a range of engaging attractions, with familiar local food vendors, interactive games and activities, musical performances and more.

The city has organized pre-Preakness civic events and celebrations in past years, but the scale, scope and coordinated nature of the 2019 schedule are unprecedented.

Preakness jockeys may be watching their waistlines, but downtown lunch-goers are invited to “break for bites” at a series of Lunchtime Happenings between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 15 through Friday, May 17. Produced in partnership with the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, the Lunchtime Happening will include a selection of tempting food options, as well as live music, games, and races. Lunchtime Happenings will take place at Harbor Market at McKeldin Square on 101 E. Pratt Street on Wednesday and Friday, and Pratt Street Market at Transamerica Plaza on 100 Light Street on Thursday.

For those who can’t get away until after work, Race to Preakness Happy Hours at Center Plaza will be a great way to kick back and relax. 110 W. Fayette Street will be the site of live music, drink specials, a Crab Derby race, fun games and other surprises between 5:00 pm to 8:00 p.m. on Monday, May 13 through Thursday, May 16. Monday will feature Game Night, with the musical stylings of hip-hop group J Pope and the HearNow, and refreshments provided by Sobeachy and Charm City Pops. Tuesday is Hospitality Industry Night, with an appearance by Americana group June Star and a menu offering selections from BricknFire Pizza Company and Stupid Delicious! desserts. Wednesday will be highlighted by the Lexington Market-sponsored Crab Derby Race, reggae band Jah Works, and food from Connie’s Chicken and Waffles and Deddle’s Donuts. And Thursday will feature The Night Brunch, Baltimore’s top roving brunch event, an appearance by DJ Impulse, and food from Baltimore’s own Clavel Taqueria and The Charmery.

Younger horse racing fans can saddle up at the Pee Wee Preakness at Patterson Park. The event, produced in partnership with Baltimore City Recreation and Parks and scheduled for Wednesday, May 15 between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., will give kids a chance to go head-to-head on bouncy balls and in-sack races for the Pee Wee Crown of racing. The afternoon will also include performances by Baltimore Hoop Love and One-Step MagiCompany, as well as a variety of hands-on crafts, games and other kid-friendly activities.

On Friday, May 17, the pre-race celebration reaches a crescendo with the  Inner Harbor Party & Fireworks Finale at West Shore Park on 401 Light Street. Presented by the Maryland Jockey Club, the event will feature food, drinks, dancing, drone races and games, as well as a series of musical performances between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Attendees will enjoy the alternative music of Super City, the Latin sounds of Zakke, and the soulful sounds of Funsho from “The Voice” television show, all leading up to a grand fireworks display from Pyrotecnico to cap off the evening.

Tracy Baskerville, Communications Director for the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, says that this packed schedule of pre-race events is the perfect kickoff to the summer season and a great way to celebrate Baltimore hosting the second jewel in the Triple Crown.

“This is an exciting time for the city, and we’re excited for everyone to be a part of that.”

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