The History Of The Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is one of the biggest horse races in America, many lovers of horse racing will attend or watch the Preakness Stakes every year, if they cannot attend, they will usually watch live Preakness Stakes.

It has been around for less than 200 years, but has become exceedingly popular in that time, and if you love this race, you will love to learn the history of the Preakness Stakes.

It was inaugurated back in 1975. In 1973, some people who came from Pimlico had wanted to come up with a stakes race, just for them. This is where the Preakness Stakes came from, little did they know what it would become.

It is an event held at the Pimlico course in Baltimore, and this course only opened in 1970.

What Is It?

The Preakness Stakes is a 1 3/16 mile long flat course race, run by Thoroughbred horses of 3 years of age. It is a race performed at the Pimlico Race Course in Maryland. It is held every year in the middle of May.

And this year is will be run on May 21.

Fillies will carry 121 lbs, and colts will carry 126 lbs in this race as a handicap.

It is the 2nd and the shortest race that is a part of the Triple Crown in American racing, the other two include the Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.

The Beginning

This race was established back in 1873, and it was actually named after the horse which won the Party Stakes at this track when it first opened in 1870.

It was suspended in 1889, and it was instead run at the Morris Park track in Westchester in 1890. However, there was a 3-year hiatus, and it returned again in 1894, although it was held again, at a different track in Gravesend, Brooklyn until 1908.

Eventually the race returned to Maryland, and it settled in Pimlico permanently after this.

Old Traditions

The race actually has some fairly aged traditions, this includes the official state song “Maryland, My Maryland” being sung

As well as the tradition of ‘painting of the colors’ which is when a painter climbs up a ladder to the very peak of the replica ‘Old Clubhouse’, and adds the painted colors of the winners’ silks to the horse and jockey, once the winner has been announced.

There is also the horse being draped with a blanket of something called ‘Black-eyed Susan’s’. This is Maryland’s state flower, they usually will not bloom until mid-summer, so yellow daisies are often used in its place, and are painted black to mimic the intended flower.

The Kentucky Derby has the nickname ‘Run for the Roses’, and to keep up the fashion, the Preakness Stakes is nicknamed ‘ the Run for the Black-eyed Susan’s’.

Winners Since 2000

We could list every winner since it opened, but we would be here all day, so instead, we will share with you the racers who have won since 2000, in order of year, horse, jockey.

2000- Red Bullet, J. Bailey.

2001- Point Given, G. Stevens.

2002- War Emblem, V. Espinoza.

2003- Funny Cide, J. Santos.

2004- Smart Jones, S. Elliot.

2005- Afleet Alex, J. Rose.

2006- Bernardini, J. Castellano.

2007- Curlin, R. Albarado.

2008- Big Brown, K. Desormeaux.

2009- Rachel Alexandra, C. Borel.

2010- Lookin at Lucky, M. Garcia.

2011-Shackleford, J. Castanon.

2012- I’ll Have Another, M. Gutierrez.

2013-Oxbow, G. Stevens.

2014- California Chrome, V. Espinoza.

2015- American Pharaoh, V. Espinoza.

2016- Exaggerator, K. Desormeaux.

2017- Cloud Computing, J. Castellano.

2018- Justify, M. Smith

2019- War of Will, T. Gaffalione.

2020- Swiss Skydiver, R. Albarado.

2021- Rombauer, F. Prat.



1873 was the year in which this race first became known as the Preakness Stakes. It was jam-packed with spectators, and every mode of transportation was used. This first event had a field of 7, and the horse who won was called ‘Survivor’.

Ironic really, because the event went on to survive all this time.

Survivor cruised with a 10 length victory, which is still, to this day, the largest victory margin in the race to ever occur. Survivor set a very high bar.

The Jockey club of Maryland was in charge of this racecourse, however after 20 years financial issues started to crop up. And that is why it was held in New York instead.

It was not until 1909 that it returned to Maryland.


In 1919, the winning horse won the Triple Crown for the first time ever. The name of this horse was Sir Barton.

This is when the Preakness Stakes became part of the Triple Crown as a race which a champion horse must win to be awarded this high title.

This just goes to show how highly valued this race became in a short span of time.

When we think of the growth of sport in America, the Preakness should always be mentioned.

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