Preakness Stakes, The History

alt="The starting gate at the Preakness"
Preakness Stakes


The Preakness Stakes was inaugurated in 1875, Sometime in the year 1873 people from Pimlico had been busy trying to come up with a stakes race they could call their own. The Preakness Stakes is held at the Pimlico racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland which was opened in the year 1870.

History of Preakness Stakes

History has it that the Maryland governor at the time in question, Oden Bowie was the one who named the Preakness Stakes, this stakes is named after a horse that is reputed to have won the then-popular Dinner Party Stakes that held in the year 1870, this is the year that Pimlico was opened officially.

The parcel of land that was used to build the Pimlico course was acquired by the club referred to as the Maryland Jockey Club. This race course started to operate in 1870. When the course started being officially used, a stakes was held there and a jockey name Sanford with his horse which he called Preakness came first and won the stakes which was at that time referred to as the Dinner Party Stakes, over time the name of this stakes was re dubbed to the Early Times Stakes, it holds the reputation for being one of the ten oldest racehorse stakes in America today. The name of the horse that won it was used for the Preakness Stakes three years later.

In the year 1873 what has come to be referred to as the first Preakness Stakes occured. It was packed with crowds that used all the means of transportation available at the time to get to the location of the Stakes. This first Preakness had a field of 7 and the name of the horse that won was Survivor, who cruised with a massive 10 length victory which to this day is still the largest margin of victory in the Preakness.

The Maryland jockey Club that was in charge of the Pimlico racecourse where the Preakness Stakes was held for about twenty years prior started having issues that were financial. This happened after Preakness Stakes 1889 took place there, due to this the 1890 Preakness Stakes competition was held in New York, at a park called Morris Park. The following three years after 1890 this Stakes competition that had so many fans could no be organized. For about fourteen years after 1893 when the Preakness Stakes resumed, the event happened in Brooklyn, at the track know as Gravesend Track. Maryland Jockey Club escaped the financial problems they had but The Preakness Stakes did not go back there till the year 1909, however, some small races were held at pimlico during this time. After Preakness Stakes resumed in Pimlico in 1909 the Maryland Jockey Club regarded those years that Preakness Stakes was away from Pimlico as lost years they did not regard those years when Preakness Stakes history was discussed. This was the case till 1948 when this problem of historical recognition was solved and those years started being recognized as part of the official history of Preakness Stakes.

Since Preakness Stakes returned to Pimlico in 1909 after the fifteen years hiatus it has been holding at Pimlico to date and it is more vibrant than before.

This Stakes has increased into such a mighty and notorious horse race force overtime, continuously gaining new fans. The year 1918 was particularly remarkable in its history as twenty-six racehorses qualified to run at the Stakes, because of this that year’s Stakes was split into two race divisions.

In the year 1919, Sir Barton which was a racehorse won what is called the Triple Crown for the first time. The Preakness Stakes became one of the horse racing championships that must be won by a racehorse in order for the horse to be awarded the high honor of the Triple Crown. This goes to affirm how strong and highly valued Preakness is when you talk about sports in America, this event for the last couple of years have been having at least five hundred thousand attendees and viewership all over the United States of America and even the world. People bet greatly on this event of horse racing.

Some Traditions of Preakness Stakes

Like many sporting events and championships some Traditions have become inextricably linked to this stakes, some of them are:

  • The traditional song that is performed at the Stakes at every event is known as Maryland, My Maryland. Much like My Old Kentucky Home is performed at the Kentucky Derby.
  • One of the notable traditions associated with the Preakness Stakes is what is called ‘Blanket of black-eyed Susans, this is a way of celebrating the winners of the stakes every time.
  • If you know about the Preakness Stakes then you know what is called the Weather Vane, this has been arguably the foremost tradition of Preakness from the year 1909. The way this tradition works is that the moment a winner of a Preakness event emerges, a designated painter goes on a ladder to what is a representation of the cupola of the old course that fire destroyed. When he gets to the top he would add the colors of the silk of the person that owns the winning horse, this colors added are on the already existing likeness of a horse and jockey, all these are in the structure of the infield of the Pimlico course. This tradition is quite notorious.

The history of this tradition is that in the year 1909 a weather vane that was the likeness of a rider on a horse was placed on the top the clubhouse of Maryland Jockey Club, in the year 1966 this clubhouse was eviscerated by a terrible fire, in honor of the old clubhouse an identical cupola to that of the old clubhouse was made and mounted at what is referred to as the winner’s circles at the infield of the Preakness Stakes. A cupola is a smallish sculpture which is usually put on top of a building or its roof, this can serve as a weather vane in place of the typical arrow-shaped weather vane. This is what was done in that case of the Pimlico course but over time it took on a whole other significant status that became the greatest tradition of the Preakness Stakes.