BALTIMORE, 05-14-11---Preakness week unofficially started this morning at Pimlico Race Course with the running of the “Down the Stretch for SGK” Preakness 5k. All 784 runners began the race by breaking off through the starting gate. The entire 3.1 mile race took place on Pimlico property, which included one trip around the famous dirt course, finishing in the famed Infield.

Baltimore sports marketing and event management company Corrigan Sports Enterprises, Inc. (CSE) organized the event. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Maryland Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

Nick Gehlsen, a 23-year-old from Timonium, Md. finished in 17:27, 17 seconds ahead of Peter Keating. Sherry Stick of Eldersburg, Md. repeated as the female champion in 20:04.

Both winners received two tickets to next Saturday’s Preakness in the Turfside Terrace section, with parking, a $665 value.

“I am new to the area and thought it would be cool to run where the Preakness horses will be running next week,” Gehlsen said. “I have a lot more respect for the horses after running on the dirt. It is a lot sandier than I thought. It was pretty cool coming out of the gate. I am looking forward to be here next week. Maybe the Preakness winner will come out of my gate (4).”

“It is so cool to hear my name called when crossing the finish line on the track (by Pimlico announcer Dave Rodman),” said the 32-year-old Stick, who graduated from Westminster High School in 1996. “My parents took me to the track when I was three months old and I have been to Pimlico many times. The tradition of the Preakness makes this race stand out. I am so excited to be back next week for Preakness day.”

Male

WIN: Nick Gehlsen , 23, Timonium, MD 17:27
PLACE: Peter Keating, 45, Columbia, MD 17:44
SHOW: Sergio Flores, 26, Abingdon, MD 18:45


Female

WIN: Sherry Stick, 32, Eldersburg, MD 20:04
PLACE: Emily Doucette, 21, Westerly, RI 20:13
SHOW: Amy Horst, 21, Baltimore, MD 20:25

Joe Mach finished in 16th place overall, stopping the clock in 21:05. He will be back next Saturday in another role. The Beltsville, Md. native is the lead singer of Hotspur, one of the six bands who will be performing during 2011 Preakness InfieldFEST.

“We are super excited to open for Train and Bruno Mars,” said Mach. “I wanted to support a great cause and scope things out. This is my first time at Pimlico and it is going to be amazing when they stuff 100,000 people in here. It is going to be a lot of fun.”

Each finisher chose between a logoed lawn blanket or performance shirt as his or her race premium. Runners also received a 10% discount on any regular infield admission ticket to the 2011 Preakness InfieldFEST.

Sheldon Russell, Pimlico’s leading rider, finished 14th overall in 20:56. The 23-year-old could have a Preakness mount aboard Concealed Identity. But as of Saturday, the Eddie Gaudet trainee ranks 15th on the earnings list. The Preakness is limited to 14 starters.

“Running on the dirt for the first mile really slowed people down, even the pros,” Russell said. “I had an easy morning and don’t have a mount until the 7th race so I have plenty of time to recover. I am really looking forward to Preakness day. The atmosphere is second to none.”

The 136th running of the Preakness® Stakes, the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, takes place at Pimlico next Saturday, May 21. First post is 10:45 a.m. with Maryland’s signature race scheduled for 6:18 p.m.

Pimlico has partnered with Komen Maryland for the return of The People’s Pink Party to raise funds to aid awareness and research for breast cancer on Black-Eyed Susan Day, Friday, May 20. Highlights include the second annual Lady Legends For the Cure Race™, the inaugural Female Jockey Challenge and the welcoming of 87 breast cancer survivor guests for festivities with a special winners’ circle tribute. The Preakness eve card features seven stakes races, six for fillies and mares, headlined by the Grade II Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2).

Seventy-five percent of the funds raised from today’s event will go to the Komen Maryland Affiliate to use for community outreach programs in Maryland and twenty-five percent will be used for life-saving breast cancer research.

CSE is well known to both area runners and Preakness attendees. The company puts on the annual Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival, which attracts more than 22,000 runners from all over the world, and manages the popular professional volleyball tournament in the Infield at Preakness.