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A Day at Pimlico

"How much longer can this go on?" a writer asked me standing on the rail of Pimlico's press box. 

"The sport or the track?"

"I meant both."

There are fewer than one hundred people outside today for the races at Pimlico Race Course. Those inside, slightly greater in number, represent two sides of the human species, separated by an ocean of circumstance: patrons of a luncheon, pink napkins and poor view of the track; beneath them, those with nothing to lose and losing it anyway. 

They have congregated two days in advance of the one day that keeps Pimlico Race Course alive, and they have not been joined by many. The horses are poor, as are the men with the flat caps who smell like smoke in the clubhouse, for whom live racing and simulcasts are identical.

The announcer speaks to no one, the horses run for no one, and the barns sit sadly in their indifference near the shattered windows on Pimlico Road. The houses lining the track give faith to no one, lying next to the burned out and the condemned, the old hopes and the damned.

There is no glory to be found here.

Jamie Berk

This is part of a series, Dispatches from the Triple Crown. Read the initial feature, "Whispers in the Shade of Roses," hereFor additional columns and vignettes, click here

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