Preakness Is Not Only A Boost For Baltimore, But It’s Local Black Community

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – MAY 18: (L-R) Kevin Liles, Dawn Moore, First Lady of Maryland, Wes Moore, Governor of Maryland, and Belinda Stronach, Chairwoman, CEO and President, The Stronach Group and 1/ST attend the Preakness 149 hosted by 1/ST at Pimlico Race Course on May 18, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for 1/ST)

Preakness has become almost synonymous with the city of Baltimore — and for good reason. A celebration of tradition, excitement, and community spirit, this year was no different, as it captivated the hearts of over 60,000 who gathered at Pimlico Race Course. 

If you’re not familiar, think of it as the Northeast’s version of the Kentucky Derby. This year’s event, held on May 18, seamlessly blended the high-stakes excitement of horse racing with vibrant cultural expressions, creating an unforgettable experience for all attendees. The atmosphere was electric, with fans dressed to impress in their finest attire, and the event brought together diverse groups of people to celebrate a shared love of the sport and the city.

From the moment the gates opened, attendees were treated to a day filled with excitement, camaraderie, and the timeless tradition that Preakness represents.

Beyond the race itself, Preakness 2024 had a significant economic impact on the Baltimore community. The influx of visitors brought a surge in business for local hotels, restaurants, and shops, providing a much-needed boost to the city’s economy. Vendors and service providers benefited from the event’s large crowds, and the hospitality industry saw a notable uptick in activity. 

The annual event not only highlights Baltimore as a premier destination for sports and entertainment but also demonstrates the city’s ability to host large-scale events with grace and efficiency.

“As a proud native of Baltimore, it was an honor to collaborate with 1/ST on Preakness 149 and Preakness LIVE to celebrate the vibrancy of our city through music and culture,” says music executive and entrepreneur, Kevin Liles. 

Preakness has a longstanding history of pouring resources into the local Black community, and 2024 was no different. The event featured several initiatives aimed at empowering and uplifting the community, including partnerships with Black-owned businesses and organizations. “This annual event is a testament to our commitment to investing in Black Baltimore, showcasing our incredible local vendors, artists, and talent,” says Liles. “Our goal was to create an immersive experience that not only entertained but also empowered the community. Seeing over 60,000+ guests come together to enjoy and support this initiative was truly inspiring and reaffirms our belief in the potential of our city.”

Liles was joined by some of his celebrity friends, which included VIPs such as Ray Lewis, Lamar Jackson, and Carson Kressley. Preakness LIVE concluded the celebration with a headlining performance by Jack Harlow and others. 

Local vendors were given prime opportunities to showcase their products and services, and community leaders were involved in planning and execution, ensuring that the event was inclusive and representative of Baltimore’s diverse population. Held within the Preakness Stakes festivities, the AfroPreak Lounge, for example, was initiated to highlight the contributions and presence of Black Americans in the context of one of horse racing’s most prestigious events. AfroPreak has grown significantly since its inception, starting with 100 guests in 2022 and expanding to 1,200 guests for the 149th Preakness.

“ We are honored to grow our partnership with Preakness and 1/ST over the past three years,” says LaRian Finney, the Co-Founder of Afro Preak and Managing Partner of The Finn Group. “Our team looks forward to playing an integral role in the reimagining of Preakness with Afro Preak and intentional community involvement at the center!” 

This partnership is just one example of how the Preakness Stakes serves as more than just a day of racing; it is a platform for change and community engagement. 

With the success of Preakness 2024, anticipation is already building for next year’s event. Preakness 2025 promises to be even more spectacular, with plans to further enhance the experience for attendees and deepen the event’s community impact. The ongoing commitment to inclusivity and empowerment will continue to be a focal point, ensuring that Preakness remains not only a premier sporting event but also a significant cultural and social occasion. 

Whether you’re a seasoned racing fan or simply looking for an exciting event to attend, Preakness offers something for everyone. Its commitment to diversity and local engagement ensures that it will continue to be a beacon of excellence and a source of pride for Baltimore and beyond.

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