The Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes are held on the third Saturday of May at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The second leg of the Triple Crown is 1 3/16 of a mile – half a furlong shorter than the Kentucky Derby. The Preakness usually sees a smaller field of horses than the Derby, but a victory in the Preakness is still one of the most prestigious titles in thoroughbred racing.

The Preakness was given its name by then Governor of Maryland, Oden Bowie. He selected the name from the horse that had won the Dinner Party Stakes on Pimlico’s opening day back in 1870.

In 2010, the purse for the Preakness was over $1 million less than the Derby’s. Still, the honor of winning this race is a great one. Many horses who have won the Kentucky Derby have won the Preakness, but only eleven have gone on to win the third leg of the Triple Crown: the Belmont Stakes. Still, attendance for the Preakness is usually the second highest of any race in the U.S.; the Kentucky Derby being number one.

There is a bit of controversy involving the Preakness’s record winning time. In 1985, Tank’s Prospect ran a 1:53 2/5, a time that has since been equaled twice. However, Secretariat was also originally credited with the same time in 1973, but due to a timing clock malfunction, Secretariat’s effort is not an officially recognized time.

The Preakness is also entrenched in tradition. Before the race, “Maryland, my Maryland,” that state’s official song, is sung. After a winner is declared, the horse is given a blanket of yellow flowers. Although black-eyed Susans are not in season this early in the year, each flower receives a bit of black paint to make them look like black-eyed Susans. Another tradition involves the addition of the winning jockey’s colors up on the weathervane at the top of the stadium.