Ten Things You Should Know: Preakness
By Kevin Martin, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Originally published on 5/13/2010

Rachel Alexandra winning the 2008 Preakness
Rachel Alexandra beating 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird in the Preakness (Eclipse Sportswire)

1) The Preakness Stakes is referred to as the second leg or the middle jewel of the Triple Crown series. Since the 1930s, it has been scheduled after the Kentucky Derby. The 1930s was the same period that race fans and journalists began to refer to the Kentucky Derby-Preakness-Belmont sequence as the Triple Crown of racing

2) The Preakness was run for the first time in 1873. The race was discontinued in Maryland in 1889 and a race referred to as the Preakness was run in New York in 1890 and then from 1894 to 1908. From 1909 to the present, the Preakness has been run in Maryland. In the 1920s, some newspapers, including the Daily Racing Form, referred to 1909 as the “first” Preakness.

3) The Preakness is named for the horse who won the Dinner Party Stakes in 1870, the first stakes race ever run at Pimlico. Preakness ran until his 8-year-old season.  He was shipped to England for stud duty but died tragically when his owner, the Duke of Hamilton, in a fit of anger, shot him in his stall.

4) The Preakness is held at Pimlico Race Course, located in Baltimore, Maryland. Pimlico opened in 1870 and is the second oldest race track in the United States (Saratoga in New York is the oldest). Pimlico was the venue for the SeabiscuitWar Admiral match race in 1938.

5) Secretariat won the Preakness in 1973. He would have broken the Preakness stakes record if not for a clock malfunction. A number of race writers, including Steve Davidowitz, have hand-timed the race and have Secretariat finishing the 1 and 3/16 miles in 1:53 2/5. The Maryland Jockey Club, however, does not recognize the corrected time. Officially, the stakes record time of 1:53 2/5 is held jointly by Tank’s Prospect (1985), Louis Quatorze (1996), and Curlin (2007).

6) In the 2005 Preakness, Afleet Alex nearly fell as he turned into the stretch when a colt named Scrappy T cut into his path. Afleet Alex’s nose nearly touched the ground but he recovered to win one of the most memorable editions of the Preakness.

7) The last filly to win the Preakness prior to Rachel Alexandra in 2009 was Nellie Morse in 1924. The victory for Nellie Morse was the last of her career. She went on to become one of the foundation mares for Calumet Farm, an elite thoroughbred racing and breeding operation.

8) From 1878 to 1882, owner George Lorillard and trainer R. Wyndham Walden won five consecutive editions of the Preakness.

9) The Preakness infield has become famous (or notorious) over the years for its riotous party atmosphere. The Running of the Preakness Porta-Potties (aka Toilet Run) garnered more attention on YouTube than the actual race in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, Pimlico officials stopped allowing attendees to bring their own beer resulting in a drop of the infield attendance.

10) The Woodlawn Vase has been presented to the winning Preakness owner since 1917. The trophy was awarded for the first time in 1861 to Mollie Jackson at the Woodlawn Course in Kentucky and has been awarded for winning horse races, in one form or another, ever since. The actual trophy is handed to the winner but the winner does not take home the original. The winning owner receives a replica and the original is returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art.

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