CATONSVILLE, MD (April 20, 2017) – Charlestown retirement community resident Gene Gilhooly cannot do anything else on May 20 but attend this year's 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore City. Horse racing, it seems, is in his blood.
A former elementary school principal, Gene bought his first racehorse in 1984. He today operates Schoolyard Stables where he buys, sells, and races horses in claiming races.
Unlike stakes races which feature the top thoroughbreds in the country, the horses that compete in claiming races can be bought for a claiming price up until post time. About half of all races run in North America are claiming races.
"Over the years I've probably had about 50, 60 or 70 horses," says Gene. "Usually I only own one horse at a time. The hard thing about claiming races is if your horse does well they usually get claimed and you lose them and you have to start all over again."
Gene spends most weekends at one of three Maryland race tracks: Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park, or Timonium Race Track. Occasionally he gives his Charlestown neighbors a ride to the track in his red Ford Mustang, and in the past has even bought pizza for the entire floor in his apartment building with his winnings.
"There's nothing like watching live horse racing," says Gene, "It's exciting. You know never know what's going to happen."