Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is an American Grade I stakes race 1-3/16 mile (1.91 km) thoroughbred horse race for three-year-old horses, held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57 kg); fillies 121 lb (55 kg). The Preakness Stakes has been termed "The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans" because a horseshoe of black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia hirta), the state flower of Maryland, is traditionally placed around the winner's neck.
History

Two years before the Kentucky Derby was run for the first time, Pimlico introduced its new stakes race for three-year-olds, the Preakness, during its first-ever spring race meet in 1873 . Former Maryland Governor Oden Bowie named the then mile and one-half (2.41 km) race in honor of the colt Preakness from Milton Holbrook Sanford's Preakness Stables in Preakness, Wayne Township, New Jersey who won the Dinner Party Stakes on the day Pimlico Race Course opened on October 25, 1870.

The first Preakness drew seven starters; John Chamberlain's three-year-old, Survivor, galloped home easily by 10 lengths, the largest margin of victory until 2004, winning a purse of $2,050.

In 1889, George "Spider" Anderson became the first African-American jockey to win the Preakness.

In 1890 Morris Park Racecourse in the Bronx, New York hosted the Preakness Stakes after which there was no race run for three years. For the 15 years from 1894 through 1908, the race was held at Gravesend Race Track on Coney Island, New York.

Evolution of the Triple Crown series

The Preakness is the second leg in American thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown series and almost always attracts the Kentucky Derby winner, some of the other horses that ran in the Derby, and often a few horses that did not start in the Derby. The Preakness is 1 3/16 miles, or 9 1/2 furlongs, compared to the Kentucky Derby, which is 1 1/4 miles. It is followed by the third leg, the Belmont Stakes, which is 1 1/2 miles.

Since 1931, the order of Triple Crown races has the Kentucky Derby first, followed by the Preakness Stakes and then the Belmont Stakes. Prior to 1931, eleven times the Preakness was run before the Derby. On May 12, 1917 and again on May 13, 1922, the Preakness and the Derby were run on the same day.

Running the Race

Just after the horses for the Preakness are called to the post, the audience is invited to sing "Maryland, My Maryland," the official state song of Maryland. Traditionally, the United States Naval Academy Glee Club assembles in the Pimlico infield to lead the song.

As soon as the Preakness winner has been declared official, a painter climbs a ladder to the top of a replica of the Old Clubhouse cupola. S/he applies the colors of the victorious owner's silks on the jockey and horse that are part of the weather vane atop the infield structure. The horseshoe of black-eyed Susans is placed around the winning horse's neck at this time and a replica of the Woodlawn Vase is given to the winning horse's owner. Should that horse have also won the Kentucky Derby, speculation and excitement immediately begin to mount as to whether that horse will go on to win the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing at the Belmont Stakes in June.

The practice started in 1909 at Pimlico when a horse and rider weather vane sat at the top of the old Members' Clubhouse, which was constructed when Pimlico opened in 1870. The Victorian building was destroyed by fire in June 1966. A replica of the old building's cupola was built to stand in the Preakness winner's circle in the infield.

Winning the Race

In 1917, the first "Woodlawn Vase" was awarded to the Preakness winner, who was not allowed to keep it. Eventually a half-size reproduction of the trophy was given to winners to keep permanently. The original trophy is kept at the Maryland Historical Society and brought to the Preakness race each year for the winner's presentation ceremony.

In 1918, 26 horses entered the race, and it was run in two divisions, providing for two winners that year. Currently, the race is limited to 14 horses.

In 1948, the Preakness was televised for the first time by CBS.

The Preakness has been run at seven different distances:

  • 1-1/2 miles (2.41 km) : 1873-1888, 1890
  • 1-1/4 miles (2.01 km) : 1889
  • 1-1/16 miles (1.71 km) : 1894-1900, 1908
  • 1 mile 70 yards (1.67 km) : 1901-1907
  • 1 mile (1.61 km) : 1909, 1910
  • 1-1/8 miles (1.81 km) : 1911-1924
  • 1-3/16 miles (1.91 km) : 1925-present

The leading Preakness winning jockeys are:

The leading Preakness winning trainers are:

Calumet Farm is both the leading breeder and owner of Preakness winners with seven each.

Set by Tank's Prospect in 1985 and equaled by Louis Quatorze in 1996 and Curlin in 2007, the time record for the current 1-3/16 miles (1.91 km) Preakness is 1:53 2/5 seconds. (Secretariat, the 1973 winner, was also credited with running 1:53 2/5 by the Daily Racing Form. However, the timer malfunctioned during that race, and Pimlico Race Course does not recognize that time, instead assigning Secretariat a time of 1:54 2/5.) The record victory margin is 11½ lengths, by Smarty Jones in 2004.

Four fillies have won the Preakness:

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