Few sit on those steps anymore, but that is what the Preakness is about, for all its creeping plasticity, for Pimlico's growing tendency not to leave people alone, its insistence that people must be constantly entertained. Soon, one thinks, it will look and feel like the Derby.
Night falls over the track, turning it back to the horses and the stable boys and those who will have to pick up three tons of debris, among which will be false teeth and almost anything else that people can lose right down to a wooden leg. This is the strangest time at a track, especially after a Preakness day. The wind blows across the infield, and the paper moves on it like butterflies. The stands are empty and dark, with echoes of horseplayers' griefs still in the air. Inside, the paper brigade, silent and tenacious, moves against the relenting tide of scratch sheets and racing forms and programs and torn slips with pencil jottings that promised much. Inside, too, are the stoopers searching for winning tickets thrown away by mistake, boundless optimists unmovable in their belief in man's dumbness.
On leaving, perspective comes hard. A long day, and what is in the mind has no more unity than the swirling bits of paper. Fragments: uncluttered morning with its freshness, ticket machines clacking like birds on an ivy wall before a storm, the jockey room with toy faces lined with little-man apprehensiveness, the eyes of the horses at the starting gate growing large with each moment, seeming stupid and panic-filled like those of Picasso's symbolic death horse in Guernica, the starters climbing on the gates like apes. And finally that infield, quiet again soon after the sun dropped on a very special day.