Monday, June 11, 2012

get your preak on!

29. Go to the Preakness - DONE!

**DISCLAIMER:  I was finishing off this blog post Friday afternoon.  When I was just about finished I got word the Triple Crown contender I'll Have Another was scratched from the race.  So I pouted like a baby, stomped my feet a bit, and failed to finish off my post.  I'm over it now, but decided not to go back and change the text.**

So with less than 24 hours til the Belmont Stakes (and a *potential* triple crown!) and less than two weeks til I turn Thirty-Fun I figured it was time that I post an update.

I've always wanted to go to the Preakness in what I call the "right" way.  Let me explain.  The Preakness Stakes are second of three major horse races that make up the Triple Crown (the other two being the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes).  But there are two ways to attend Preakness..the infield, and the grandstands.
While I know many people who enjoy a day in the infield, I have to say I went once when I was 22 and I was MIS-ER-A-BLE.  Twenty-two.  As in "the age when you should enjoy partying in the sun, and all day long drinking with a bunch of belligerent idiots."  Now understand, I was in the throes of my party girl days, and I could hang just as much as any other college co-ed my age.  HOWEVER, even I could not stand the annoying drunken douchebaggy debauchery that went on in the infield and I swore NEVER AGAIN!

It just wasn't my thing.  At 22.  When drinking and partying were very much my thing.

So this year I really wanted to do it up right--complete with fancy hat and dress.  I wanted to sip Black Eyed Susan's all day and say things like, "well, I do declare!"  I wanted to look like a fancy lady of leisure, and if I could've found little white gloves to wear I would've rocked them too.

Only problem is I needed someone to go with me!

So I asked around...

and a few friends were going to the infield...

a few were coming in from out of state, but they already had tickets...

Everyone said it "sounded like so much fun!" but no one seemed to really want to go.



So I kinda gave up on my fancy Preakness hopes.

Until one day, when my neighbor Sutton and I were out and about on a beautiful day.  We decided to take advantage of the summer-like weather and head to Federal Hill Park (a favorite of mine, and one she had not yet been to since moving to Baltimore).  It was a beautiful day, see?

Somehow we got on the topic of the Preakness. 

Sutton:  "So I totally would love to go to the Preakness, but if I went I'd have to sit in the stands, I couldn't do the infield."

Me (somewhat absentmindedly):  "Yeah, me too, I did the infield one year, and it was just exhausting...I want to get dressed up."

Sutton: "Me too.  And I looked at the price of tickets, and they really aren't THAT terribly expensive for grandstand seats."

Me (cue lightbulb going off in my brain):  "WAIT.  Are you saying that you'd actually want to get tickets and go?  Not like, theoretically IF you went you'd want to sit in the stands and dress mean you'd actually GO?  Like get tickets and go?  And dress up?

Sutton: "Oh totally."

Me: "I WILL TOTALLY GO WITH YOU! It's on my 30 list!"

Sutton: "NO WAY!!!! I'M IN!  We're so going."

***screaming and squealing, followed by lots of "ohmygod, I have to find a dress!" and "ohmygoodness, we gotta get hats!"  and "aaaccckk! this is going to be awesome!"***

And so it was decided.

We even decided we had to go to Target THAT DAY and try on some sunhats...just to see, and ya know, get ourselves MORE excited.

Tickets were purchased, and then the most important part--the search for the perfect Preakness outfit--began.

(You would think this would be the easiest part.)

I went through my closet, and while I found several dresses that probably could work, there was nothing that I was head over heels in love with, so the following Sunday after gymnastics Sadira and I set off for the mall.

I decided to go to my best bet for finding something cute with limited time--Macy*s.  Lord knows I love me some Macy*s.  And to my luck they had a whole Preakness section!

But sadly everything I really liked look like ass on me.  And everything that looked good on me, was either out of my price range, or was too matronly.  After two and a half hours, we left Macy*s empty-handed.  Boooo....

Someone had suggested going to Dress Barn...but I've never been in a Dress Barn, and I'm also hesitant of buying something from a place that sounds like its designing for livestock versus fun, fancy ladies.  

I passed on the Dress Barn.

And somehow ended up in the Gap.

And just when I started to feel hopeless I found not one, but TWO fantastic dresses (on clearance no less).  

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-) 

I also managed to find a hat in an accessories shop.  It was a good day.

So of course when I got home I called Sutton right away.  She lives right next door so we both decided to try on our dresses and stand on our porches so we could get feedback.  This resulted in more screaming and squealing.

I'm sure the other neighbors were very confused.

So the day of the 137th Annual Preakness Stakes actually arrived on May 19th.  I dropped Sadie off to my mom bright and early.  I told my mom I was going to bet on Bodemeister, and Sadie looked at me very seriously, and said, "No Mommy, you gotta bet on I'll Have Another."  

Not a word of explanation, just a firm direction from the mini-sage that she is.

I filed away her suggestion and headed home to begin the primping process.

By noon we were ready to go.

The first half of the day was full of finding our parking lot, finding our correct entrance, finding our seats, finding a drink, finding some food, finding out where to place our bets, finding out HOW to place our bets, finding another drink, finding an ATM, finding out how close we could get to the finish line when we didn't actually have grandstand apron box tickets, finding another drink, finding my friend Kate so we could say hi...

...oh yeah, and there were some of races going on that we kinda of paid attention to every now and then.

But seriously, it was like one big scavenger hunt of fun.  The outfits were awesome, our seats were under a canopy so we weren't sitting in the blazing sun, and the air was thick with excitement.

Did I mention the outfits were awesome?  

There were hats, and fascinators, and pearls, and white gloves, and dresses galore for the ladies.  For the men, there were bowties, and suspenders, and caps, and critter pants (Sutton's favorite) and wing-tipped shoes.  Seriously men of the 137th Preakness, you did not disappoint.  This may have been one and only day that I truly felt like I was living below the Mason-Dixon line in Baltimore.

And the manners!  Holy Lord, everyone in the stands were on their best behavior.  I can't tell you how many times we were complimented, or one of the young men would say to their friends, "step aside for the ladies!" as we would come down the steps, or someone would say, "I just love your hat!"  

Again, completely forgot I was in Baltimore.

And I also completely forgot it was 2012.  It felt like we had stepped back in time.  Like, I was waiting to hear, "Say, you two ladies wanna meet at the speakeasy and get splifficated after the race?  Or maybe catch the latest talkie, it's the bees knees!"

And of course Sutton and I couldn't get enough of it.  I love any opportunity to dress up and put on a show, and she loves high society.  Win-win.

So sometime around 6pm, they started setting up for the  BIG race.   Everyone started making their way back to their seats.  There's so much anticipation before the actual race, that when that bugle call goes off and horses start to run your adrenaline goes from zero to sixty.   As they started to approach the finish line, Bodemeister had a clear lead, but as they passed in front of us I'll Have Another was quickly gaining on him. 

As they closed in on the finish line we were all on our feet, jumping up and down and screaming.  So much so, that we had no idea who had actually one!  I yelled at Sutton, "who won?!" and she yelled back (while jumping up and down, "I have no idea!"  After watching the replay, we could see that I'll Have Another edged out Bodemeister just as he had done at the Kentucky Derby by a nose.

What a thrill!

We collected on our bets, (me $21 on Sadie's $5 bet, and Sutton $8 and some change on her $2 bet...oh yeah, we go big ;-)  and started to make our way out to the parking lot.

And when we finally make it to our car, it took us two hours---yes, you read correctly--two hours to actually get OUT of the lot.  So we made the most of it, making friends, watching the drunken shenanigans of the infielders (which included dancing on top of a van and climbing out of cars via sunroofs), and looking through the pictures we had taken.

Here are a few of my favorites:

It was a great day, and here's hoping that I'll Have Another (Sadie's favorite horse) can pull out the Triple Crown win at Belmont!

***EPILOGUE:  Sadly I'll Have Another was scratched from the race on Belmont's eve, but it was another thrilling win nonetheless. Congrats to Union Rags who overcame Paynter to win "by a neck."***


lauren said...

what an amazing experience!! i love the get-ups and especially the polite gentlemen!! what a day! :) *

Nasrene said...

Miss Lauren, you should join us next year for Preakness! Especially since you are a racing lady ;-)

lauren said...

how awesome would that be?! my good friend jill lives in KY, so she's always all about the Derby and horse racing, in general. whenever she refers to 'racing' on her blog, it's horse racing and i get a little bit confused! LOL! i am planning many adventures by train, so maybe i will add this to the list! :) *

Nasrene said...

Well you are always welcome to stay with us in Bmore! And we could do a DC day too! ;-). Something to think about!! (have I lured you in yet? Haha!)

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