Baltimore and the Preakness: Because Rising Above is What We DO in Horse Racing.

Marion Altieri,New York writer

Marion Altieri,New York writer

In a way, I’m at a loss for words tonight.  My heart and mind, however, are filled with too many thoughts and feelings to process.  So perhaps I can work through them by trying to write something here and sharing it with y’all.

Right now–Tuesday, 28 April 2015–as I write this, it’s 12:30 in the morning.  As I sit in my safe perch near the Saratoga Race Course, I am acutely aware that the city of Baltimore has come under siege.  I won’t get into the details of it, for the violence that’s strangling Balto has been all over the news.  The bottom line is that Americans have the right to peaceful assembly–to protest in a peaceful manner–but no one has the right to destroy property and attempt to kill anyone as a form of “protest.”

I put the word, “protest” in quotation marks because we all know that the violence that’s got a stranglehold on Baltimore is no more rooted in actual protest than my cat is related to a circus elephant.  Anyone who says that the looting, burning of cars and buildings and assault of humans is protest against ANYthing–is a liar.

The sad, horrible circumstances that resulted in real peaceful protest are not a concern of those who are torching cars and going on stealing sprees at 7-11 stores.  The death of a citizen of Baltimore while in police custody is just the excuse screamed by those cowards who cover their faces with bandanas as they break into stores and destroy property.

And it’s a sin–and a horrible dishonor–to the memory of Mr. Freddie Gray–to break windows, torch, steal and injure in his name.  Not only is it a lie–his death serves no purpose if people, peoperty and animals are in danger because thugs choose to filthy-up his name by associating it with the violence they’ve perpetrated.

Which brings me to the reason for this column.  On Facebook this evening, I saw a comment:  someone wondered if the Preakness would be canceled.

God forbid–the Preakness is in 20 days.
If this rioting continues on for 20 days, Baltimore will become a memory, like Pompeii.

So of course the Preakness will take place–if anything, it will happen in defiance of the thugs.  Living well is the best revenge, as they say.  Pimlico and the Stronach Group will be sure that the Preakness happens–and probably with more pomp and pride than ever before.  The Preakness is a grand, historic event, and no one–not even a city-full of thugs and vandals–can be allowed to rob the city of Baltimore of this great, beautiful tradition.

My concern tonight–in the immediate wake of the still-occurring violence (not “protest”–I refuse to call it that, for it is not)–is for the horses and horsemen who are at Pimlico at this very minute.  I’m grateful that the National Guard is being called in by the thousands–I pray that a few hundred are being assigned to guard and protect everyone and every building at Pimlico Race Course.

I hope that you will join me in praying for peace for the city of Baltimore, and just as urgently, for the members of our horse racing community who are in Baltimore–both equine and human.

The Preakness WILL go on–of this, I am sure.  And I know that nothing, and no evil intentions of idiots and vandals, can take away the rightful pride that Baltimore and Pimlico feel for their historic race.

Carry on, Pimlico.  May this be your best Preakness in memory–if for no other reason than to show Them that good DOES overcome evil, in the end.