Sherry Stick will go for a three-peat at Saturday's Preakness 5K

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Sherry Stick has been to racetracks since her parents took their then 3-year-old daughter to one near the family's Delaware home. Going to Pimlico Race Course for the Preakness has been a regular activity for Stick since she graduated Salisbury in 2000 and moved to the Baltimore area.

Stick was an accomplished middle- and long-distance runner in track and cross country in college, breaking the school record in the 800 meters and eventually being inducted into Salisbury's Athletic Hall of Fame. But she never imagined running at Pimlico — on the rail no less.

"I have a lot more respect for the horses now," Stick said.

Stick, who lives in Eldersburg and teaches aquatic fitness at a retirement community in Westminster, will be going for a three-peat Saturday when she runs in the third annual "Down the Stretch for SGK" Preakness 5K. She won the first two, though neither of her winning times approached a personal best.

"I know they were a little slow," she said with a laugh.

For her victories the past two years, Stick was given tickets to the Preakness by the Maryland Jockey Club. She bought tickets to this year's Black-eyed Susan Stakes the day before the May 19 main event, when Komen Maryland will hold The People's Pink Party to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research.

The involvement of Komen Maryland makes the 5K race an important race for Stick.

"I have two aunts who were diagnosed with breast cancer, and I run in the 'Race for the Cure' every year in Baltimore," Stick said.

Saturday's race will begin at 10:30 a.m. It will start on the parking lot at Belvedere and Park Heights avenues and circle one mile around the course. The route will continue around the Pimlico perimeter before finishing in the infield.

Stick's game plan is simple.

After getting through the starting gates, "I'm going to stay by the rail," Stick said.

don.markus@baltsun.com

For information, go to preak¿ness5k.org. The race registration fee is $35.

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