The Preakness

The Preakness Stakes has been around for 146 years. Yet it has the vibe of a modern event. The combination of horse racing and live music had given it a festival feeling.

The Preakness had become one of the biggest parties of the spring since the inception of InfieldFest in 2010, which combines a two-day-long music festival with some of the best horse racing in America.

Past headliners have included Lorde, Childish Gambino, Sam Hunt, Zedd, The Chainsmokers, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Fetty Wap, and Armin van Buuren.

The middle jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown had evolved into a destination event for both racing and music fans across the country.

But that won’t be the case this year as InfieldFest 2021 has been canceled due to the pandemic. So it’s all about the racing this year.

New to the Preakness Stakes? Let the Daily Racing Blog answer some important questions in regard to Baltimore’s biggest party.

WHO: Elite 3-year-old thoroughbreds, both male and female. The Preakness is the middle race of the Triple Crown series; and while the Kentucky Derby has had three female Winners, the Preakness has welcomed six fillies to its Winner’s Circle: FLOCARLINE (1903), WHIMSICAL (1906), RHINE MAIDEN (1915), NELLIE MORSE (1924), the incomparable RACHEL ALEXANDRA (2009), and SWISS SKYDIVER (2020).

WHAT: The middle jewel of the Triple Crown and the party that goes along with it. The Preakness is especially exciting because it’s the race that determines whether we’ll be rooting for a Triple Crown Winner again in 2021. All eyes will be on Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday May 15th to see if MEDINA SPIRIT can cover the 1 3/16 miles faster than the competition.

The Preakness also offers up the most valuable trophy in all of sports: the divine Woodlawn Vase was originally created in 1860 by Tiffany & Company and was assessed in 1983 to be valued at $1 million … in todays dollars when adjusted for inflation that’s $2,659,407. You’d better have a vault for a trophy case if you Win that.

WHERE: Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The Maryland Jockey Club actually predates the United States of America: the former was founded in 1743 and the latter in 1776, making the Maryland Jockey Club the oldest sporting association in the country. Racing began at present-day Pimlico in Baltimore in 1870, and the very first Preakness Stakes was run in 1873.

WHEN: The Third Saturday in May…normally. The Preakness Stakes has traditionally been run two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, which (almost) always occurs on the first Saturday in May. There are exceptions, though: due to the pandemic, the 2020 Preakness was on October 3rd.

Additionally, while the Preakness has been run on a Saturday every year since 1931, it has (at one time) gone off on every day of the week except for Sunday. In its long history, the Preakness has been held on Tuesday 14 times, Friday 13 times, Monday six times, Wednesday five times, and Thursday four times.

WHY: Well there was this really fun dinner party in 1868. It happens to all of us- sometimes you go to what you think is going to be a quiet dinner with friends and the evening sort of gets a lot bigger than you thought it was going to get.

That’s what happened in 1868 when a group of horse owners got together in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. after the races one summer evening.

The dinner party was so much fun that one attendee John Hunter (a Maryland native) proposed that the party be commemorated by running a horse race in the fall of 1870 for 3-year old Thoroughbreds called Dinner Party Stakes.

Maryland’s then-Governor Oden Bowie upped the ante, suggesting that the purse of the race be $15,000 (today that’s about $263,157) and that the race should be held in Maryland. He even promised to build a new racetrack to host the event, and Pimlico Race Course was born.

The very first horse to Win the Dinner Party Stakes was PREAKNESS in 1870, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Next week the Daily Racing Blog will take a look at the prospective field of ten for this years Preakness Stakes.

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