The 2017 Kentucky Derby is in the books, and now the attention shifts to the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes. Can Always Dreaming make it two wins in a row? Before we handicap the race, let’s look at the history, traditions and records of the Preakness Stakes.

 

Preakness Stakes History

In 1873, Pimlico Race Course introduced a new race for three-year-olds for its spring meet. The governor of Maryland at the time, Oden Bowie, named the race the Preakness Stakes after the winner of the first Dixie Stakes (then called the Dinner Party Stakes).

The first Preakness Stakes was won by Survivor, who beat six other thoroughbreds to win the purse of $2,050. He stormed the finish line by 10 lengths. In 1890, the Preakness Stakes was moved to Morris Park Racecourse in New York, but it was run as a handicap race and there was no age restriction. Montague, a five-year-old horse, won the race that year, and afterward there was no race for three years. The Preakness returned in 1894 through to 1908, when it was run at Gravesend Race Track on Coney Island in New York, and in 1909, the Preakness Stakes returned home to Pimlico.

Seven editions of the Preakness Stakes have been run as a handicap, and the name of the race was changed to the Preakness Handicap to reflect that. In 2009, the Preakness was in danger of having to move again after the owner, Magna Entertainment Corporation, filed for bankruptcy. However, the Maryland Legislature created a plan to purchase the Stakes and Pimlico should they struggle to find a buyer. After all, the Preakness is the second-most attended horse race in North America.

 

Traditions

Since 1909, the colours of the winning owner have traditionally been placed on top of the cupola in the winner’s circle. The winning horse is adorned with a bouquet of black-eyed Susans, which is Maryland’s official flower. Also, “Maryland, My Maryland” is sung by the United States Naval Academy Glee Club prior to the race, although it was sung by the Baltimore Colts’ Marching Band for many years.

 

Records

Secretariat set the Preakness Stakes speed record in 1973. He would go on to win the Triple Crown that year. Survivor’s win in the inaugural Preakness was the largest margin of victory (10 lengths) until 2004, when Smarty Jones destroyed the field by 11 ½ lengths.

The most Preakness wins by a jockey is six with Eddie Arcaro, while, the most wins by a trainer is seven with R. Wyndham Walden.

Five fillies have won the Preakness, most recently in 2009, when Rachel Alexandra took the black-eyed Susans.

The 2017 Preakness is coming up on Saturday, May 20.