All You Need to Know About the Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. It's preceded by the iconic Kentucky Derby and followed by the final race, the Belmont Stakes. It is the one of the most highly attended races in North America, second only to the Kentucky Derby.

A Closer Look at the Preakness Stakes

This race is open to Group 1 thoroughbreds of both genders and covers a distance of 1 3/16 miles at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland. The track itself is left-handed. Colts must carry 9 stones and fillies must carry 8st-9lbs.

Fact file

Location: Pimlico Racecourse, Baltimore

Grade: Group 1

Race Type: Flat

History

The Preakness Stakes is also known as the 'Run for the Black-Eyed Susan', as a blanket of Black-Eyed Susans (the state flower of Maryland) is draped over the winning horse. This tradition has been upheld since the Preakness Stakes' inaugural running in 1873.

The event evolved from the Dinner Party Stakes run in 1870 to commemorate an agreement between sportsmen. The Preakness Stakes we know today was established by Governor Bowie and named for the first Dinner Party Stakes winner Preakness.

The distance of the Preakness Stakes has been changed six times since the race was introduced. Originally, it was a 12 furlong race. In 1925, the current distance of 9.5 furlongs was introduced and has remained constant.

The purse amounted to $2050 in 1873. That is a far cry from the increase to $1,500,000 in 2013. The purse size reflects the prestigious position the Preakness Stakes holds on the US racing calendar.

Records

As a prestigious race on the US calendar, several racing-greats have given record-setting performances since 1873 (as of 2017).

  • The most successful jockey is Eddie Arcaro who won the race six times between 1941 and 1957.

  • The most successful trainer is R. Wyndham Walden who produced seven winners from 1875 to 1888.

  • Only six maidens have managed to win including Survivor, Culpepper, Shirley, Cloverbrook, Saunterer, and Refund between 1873 and 1888.

  • 2004's Smarty Jones won by 11.5 lengths making him the record holder for widest margin.

  • Master Derby (1975) is the longest-priced winner with 23/1 odds.

Best Moments

Below are some of the most memorable and historic moments in the history of the Preakness Stakes (as of 2017).

jockey racing horse
  • In its 134-year history, only five female contenders have managed to snatch victory. These were Flocarline (1903), Whimsical (1906), Rhine Maiden (1915), Nellie Morse (1924), and modern legend Rachel Alexandra (2009).

  • In 2012, it was determined that Secretariat actually completed the 1973 race in 1 minute and 53 seconds making him the record holder for fastest time in all US Triple Crown events.

  • The biggest upset occurred in 1975 when 23/1 shot Master Derby finished a length ahead of the favourite Foolish Pleasure.