11/27/2012 11:37AM

Joe Kelly, Preakness historian, dies at 94


Joe Kelly, who worked in Maryland racing for some 70 years and was widely known as an outstanding historian on the Preakness and other racing matters, died Monday in his lifelong hometown of Baltimore following a brief illness. He was 94.

Kelly was a familiar figure in the press boxes of Laurel and Pimlico, even after retiring from a distinguished career as a turf writer for the Baltimore Sun and Washington Star. He was “a true representative of the greatest generation and always someone you could turn to for historical information,” longtime Maryland race-caller Dave Rodman said in a Maryland Jockey Club release. “He was eager to share stories about Maryland racing, especially the Preakness. Nobody loved Pimlico more than Mr. Kelly, who continued to drive to the track almost every day. Coming to the races kept him very sharp. He loved to talk about the horses and handicap the races.”

Kelly is the only two-time winner of the prestigious Old Hilltop Award, given each year during Preakness week for excellence in racing coverage. Kelly was so honored in 1979 and 2000.

A funeral service will be held Friday morning at St. Ignatius in Baltimore.