by Jonathan Dean
Manager, Division of Communications
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
On the third Saturday of each May, the thoroughbred horse racing world turns to the historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes. The middle jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness is the largest single-day sporting event in the State of Maryland. According to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, a crowd of more than 117,000 enjoyed the 138th running of the Preakness in 2013. For Baltimore and the State of Maryland, the Preakness is an important opportunity to highlight the local horse industry, hospitality, and tourist attractions to a national and international audience.
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport plays a role each May in supporting the Preakness. In the days before the race, horses are flown from Louisville, Lexington, and other markets to BWI. Experienced, professional horse handlers from the H.E. “Tex” Sutton Forwarding Co.use a specially-modified Boeing 727 aircraft to fly the horses safely and quickly to Baltimore. Corporate jets and other general aviation aircraft fly to BWI for the weekend festivities. Commercial flights bring additional visitors to Baltimore for the race and other Preakness-related activities.
Other Maryland airports play an important role, too. Business jets use Martin State Airport as a quick gateway to Pimlico. General aviation airports throughout the state support additional flights, and even host a blimp that is used during the television broadcast of the Preakness.
As part of a safe, reliable, and efficient transportation system, BWI and airports across Maryland help ensure the quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors. And each May, these airports support the Preakness and the important horse racing industry in Maryland.