Leo Kahl’s watercolor artwork “First Turn” was the winning entry in the 2023 Preakness: The Art of Racing competiton. (Submitted artwork/Leo Kahl)

Preakness: The Art of Racing, a nationwide art competition celebrating the unique elements of The Preakness Stakes and Thoroughbred horse racing, culminated in the announcement of Leo Kahl as the competition’s winner. Kahl’s original artwork, titled “First Turn,” was selected by a panel of judges from among hundreds of total submissions.

The winning artwork was announced at an honorary ceremony in the Brown Center at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Senior Advisor of Arts & Culture for the City of Baltimore Tonya Miller Hall was in attendance representing Mayor Brandon Scott, a longtime advocate for Park Heights. MICA dignitaries, Park Heights’s City Council representatives and 1/ST RACING leadership attended the announcement alongside participating artists.

In its third year, Preakness: The Art of Racing was launched on Jan. 8 by 1/ST RACING and the Maryland Jockey Club in partnership with MICA through a call for entries to artists nationwide. The top 10 vote-getters in public online voting were then judged by a panel that included elected officials, community leaders and art professionals to select the winner.

“My objective was to capture the colors, excitement and festive mood of Pimlico Race Course and The Preakness Stakes,” said Kahl. “I chose the loose and romantic medium of watercolor to depict this scene as it best depicts the movement and drama of the day.”

As the winner of the third-annual competition, Kahl receives a $4,000 prize and two VIP tickets to Preakness 149 on Saturday, May 18. Additionally, his work will be reproduced on a curated collection of Preakness 149 merchandise that will be available for purchase online and onsite during Preakness weekend. Proceeds from the sale of merchandise will be used to advance the activities of Park Heights Renaissance as it pursues affordable housing for families and provides employment opportunities to people of Park Heights.

“The platform given to rising artists, both amateur and professional, who have entered Preakness: The Art of Racing competition over the past three years underscores the vibrancy of The Preakness Stakes and its unique cultural footprint,” said Audra Madison, Director of Marketing, Maryland Jockey Club. “It brings me joy to see the diverse array of artwork entered into the competition each year, and I hope community members share the same sense of celebration.”

The ongoing partnership between 1/ST, Maryland Jockey Club and the Park Heights Renaissance also includes the George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and the George E. Mitchell Park Heights Community Fellowship Grant, both of which honor the extraordinary legacy of Mitchell himself and recognize individuals who share a similar commitment to their friends and neighbors.

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