Just as the first Monday in May is synonymous with the Met Gala, so is the 3rd weekend in May for Baltimore’s Preakness Stakes.
The 148th annual event took place on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in North Baltimore, ushering in a new era for live music, entertainment, arts and culture. And this year, the event exemplified Black excellence in all of its multifaceted glory.
With head-turning hats, bold dresses, searsucker suits, and fancy fascinators, Black Baltimoreans — and Preakness fans alike — understood the assignment as a wave of fashions took over the stands.
Preakness Live had a variety of top performers including GRAMMY Award-winner Bruno Mars, musical duo SOFI TUKKER, DJ Chantel Jeffries, Martin 2 Smoove and Baltimore’s own DJ Quicksilva.
In what many consider to be a tale of “two Baltimores,” the event, has strived to become more inclusive of its surrounding community over the past couple of years, thanks to a collaboration with Baltimore’s very own Kevin Liles, Chairman & CEO of 300 Elektra Entertainment and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. The result — Preakness LIVE, a campaign launched by 1/ST in 2022 to champion the event’s connection to Baltimore by leveraging the Preakness platform to highlight the city’s rich entertainment, arts and community culture. Though in comparison to the initial launch last year, the 2023 event had a noticeable difference in lack of representation from Black chefs from Baltimore’s Restaurant Row and the excitement from the previous year’s stacked talent lineup (which featured D-Nice, Lauryn Hill, Megan Thee Stallion, Moneybagg Yo and The Chainsmokers) but still an overall step in the right direction.
The most important element from the weekend — there was genuine Black joy radiating on that field, despite the rain showers that made an appearance.
The second jewel in the triple crown, Preakness is also referred to as “the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” because a blanket of Black-Eyed Susans, the state flower of Maryland, is draped over the winning horse. National Treasure, owned by SF Racing LLC, trained by Bob Baffert, and ridden by jockey John Velazquez, was presented with the Tiffany & Co. Woodlawn Vase after winning this year.
This year’s Preakness LIVE shined a spotlight on Baltimore’s vibrant art scene with the return of the infield art garden, featuring unique works by local artists using shipping containers as a canvas, provided by Ports America Chesapeake and in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Art & Culture. Merchandise featuring the winning artwork from the Art of Racing competition in collaboration with Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) were also available for purchase with proceeds going to the Park Heights Renaissance, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting its community.