Preakness Stakes History

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As a race first run way back in 1873, the Preakness Stakes has a real place in American horse racing history and was named after a winning horse at the home of this race, Pimlico.

Known affectionately as “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans”, the race takes place on the third Saturday of every May and is the second leg of the Triple Crown series.

The Venue

Pimlico is actually the second oldest racetrack in the country after Saratoga and has been hosting race meetings since October 1870.

Household names like Cigar, Citation, Seabiscuit, Secretariat and Man o’War have all been witnessed at the Maryland track over the last century with new legends being made all the time around these bends, especially in the Grade One Preakness Stakes as part of the Triple Crown.

Pimlico can hold 120,000 people on race day and is considered an American sporting treasure having stood firm through wars and depressions to continue as the home of the Preakness.

The Early Days

The Preakness actually pre-dates the Kentucky Derby by two years having been named by Maryland Governor Oden Bowie in honor of the colt Preakness who won at the track on the day it opened five years earlier in 1870.

In 1873 the first Preakness was held and featured seven horses fighting for just over $2,000 in winnings, the winner being Survivor by an easy ten lengths. That margin of victory remained the longest in the race’s history right up until 2004 when Smarty Jones won by 11½ lengths.

Between 1890 and 1908 the race was run elsewhere but returned to its rightful home at Pimlico in 1909 with age restrictions lifted at times and also the event run as a handicap at times, though these days it is settled as a three-year-old only stakes race.

The Preakness’ Place In The Triple Crown

Pimlico’s championship race is the second leg of the American thoroughbred’s Triple Crown series and naturally usually features the Kentucky Derby winner of just two weeks earlier.

It’s a competitive race as, not only the Derby winner, but some re-opposing horses from Churchill Downs as well as new competition often feature in search of their share of the $1.5million purse. Check out how to get a place in the field here.

The Kentucky Derby is run over a mile-and-a-quarter, or ten furlongs, while the Preakness distance is slightly shorter at 9½ furlongs. Horses tend to need a little speed to win the Preakness, yet when heading for the Belmont Stakes in the third leg of the Triple Crown the mile-and-a-half (12 furlong) trip really tests the runners’ stamina making the Triple Crown a true test.

The Purse

Upon its inception way back in 1873, the Preakness had a value of $1,000. There were little in the way of shifts to this until 1919 when the race was raised right up to $25,000 and it continued to grow steadily with the times until in 1959 the race carried a value of $150,000.

The total purse was raised four times between 1979 and 1989 which took it from $200,000 to $500,000 which gave it the sort of value appropriate for a race of this stature.

The first $1million running of the Preakness took place in 1997 and with that value holding steady for a long time, the race value was finally raised once again in 2014 to its current standing at $1.5million. This value keeps it in line with the Belmont Stakes, but behind the Kentucky Derby which stands at $2million in prize money value.

Betting The Preakness

Checking the race history for trends in the past winners of the Preakness, as well as studying current form and checking the latest odds are paramount in attempting to bet the winner of this race and that can all be done by visiting right here at

As a bettor, you should never go into any big race under informed so make sure you check back here at race time for all the latest information regarding one of America’s biggest races.

Bet The Preakness With Our Experts

If knowing the history of the race really whets your appetite, be sure to get involved with this year’s event by betting online here at TVG. Our race experts will be on hand during build-up to the big day offering in-depth analysis on all the contenders to help you bet wisely.



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