Preakness Basics

The Kentucky Derby, as wonderful as it was, is over. As is the mindset for most horse-players; onto the next race.

The Preakness Stakes, even with 146 years of history behind it, is an incredibly modern event- half elite day of horse racing, half festival.

The middle jewel of the Triple Crown has evolved into a destination event for sports and music fans across the country.

If you’re new to the Preakness Stakes, here are the answers to your most important questions about Baltimore’s biggest party.

WHO: Elite 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, both male and female. The Preakness is the middle jewel of the Triple Crown; and while the Kentucky Derby can boast three female Winners, the Preakness has welcomed six fillies to its Winner’s Circle. With the two most recent being RACHEL ALEXANDRA (2009) and SWISS SKYDIVER (2020).

WHAT: The second leg of the Triple Crown and the party that comes 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 this year.

All eyes will be on Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on May 21st to see if RICH STRIKE can cover 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 and Company and was assessed in 1983 to be valued at $1 million … that’s $2,670,934 in 2022 when adjusted for inflation.

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 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: There was a really, really fun dinner party in 1868. You know how 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 attendee John Hunter 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 (that’s $329,203-ish in 2022) 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 race was PREAKNESS in 1870, and the rest, as is said, is history.

Those are the basics. The Daily Racing Blog will continue to report on this year’s Preakness in the days leading up to the May 21st race.

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