The Preakness Stakes Survives!

by Darrell K. Carter

       The year 2001 has been a great year for Baltimore sports enthusiasts. In football the Ravens won the Superbowl, in men’s basketball Maryland made it to the Final Four, in boxing Baltimore native Hasim Rahman became Heavyweight Champion of the World, and in horse racing the Preakness Stakes survived to yet another year. And it’s only May!

Preakness Stakes

       Over the past three years, Maryland racetracks have been under siege from racetracks in Delaware and West Virginia. The lust of casino-style slot machines and larger purses have lured Maryland race fans and horse owners.

       In 1998, the world was watching when a fire destroyed a power transformer serving Pimlico and much of the surrounding area, costing the Maryland Jockey Club millions in lost wagers. Pimlico showed her vulnerability that day, and many believed the aging track and the future of the Preakness Stakes in Maryland were in jeopardy. In 1999, Baltimore’s housing authority cited the racetrack as unsafe and recommended closure, but last year Maryland lawmakers came to the rescue and awarded Pimlico $10 million in funding.

       By the way: Distilled and Keats are the early favorites in the 126th running of the Preakness Stakes.


       Baltimorean Hasim Rahman stunned the boxing world when he knocked out Lennox Lewis and captured the heavyweight WBC and IBF titles. Rahman’s straight right hand to Lewis’ jaw had the crowd in Johannesburg, South Africa on their feet in disbelief. The 28-year-old Rahman has compiled a 35-2 win/loss record. In May 2000, Rahman captured the lesser-known WBU title from South African Corrie Sanders. Rahman’s only losses were to Samoan David Tua in ’98 and Russian Olez Maskaev in ’99.

       (P.S.: Not to brag, but in 1996, Rahman was voted “sixth top sports story of the year” by The Baltimore Chronicle. The article noted Rahman as “a warrior and future champion.”)

Ravens’ Draft

       With the 31st pick in the first round, the Baltimore Ravens selected Arizona State tight end Todd Heap. Heap, 6’ 5” and 230 lbs., skipped his senior year but completed his career as a two-time All-Pac 10 performer. During the 2000 season, he caught 45 passes for 617 yards and 3 touchdowns.

       In the second round, Baylor cornerback Gary Baxter was selected by the Ravens. His covering skills and athleticism has team officials projecting a switch to free safety. Baxter has a big frame and long reach with quick footwork, and displays an excellent backpedal and the flexible hips needed to turn and break with the ball. As a senior he had 96 tackles, 1 sack, 11 passes broken up, and 2 fumbles forced.

       In the third round, Wisconsin offensive lineman Casey Raback was selected with the 92nd pick. Rabach played his first three seasons at the center position and his senior year at right guard. The 6’ 4”, 310 lb. lineman blocked for former Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne for three years.

       With the 126th pick in the 4th round, linebacker Edgerton Hartwell of Western Illinois University was selected. Hartwell is known to have superb closing speed and incredible aggression in the box. Despite playing only three years at Western Illinois, he owns the school career record with 512 total tackles and 308 solo stops. He was the unanimous division IAA All-American first team choice, Defensive Player of the Year, and was neamed IAA National Defensive Performer of the Year by The NFL Draft Report.

       Round five brought running back Chris Barnes from New Mexico State University, round six center/long snapper Joe Maese of the University of New Mexico, and round seven defensive end Dwayne Missouri of Northwestern University.


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This story was published on May 2, 2001.