The Preakness in Maryland is an annual horse racing event that takes place in Baltimore, Maryland, as the second leg of the Triple Crown, which includes the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. While most people know that horse breeding and racing is an important part of Kentucky’s history and tradition, not many appreciate how important horse breeding is in Maryland.

Maryland Loves Its Horses

As the state with the most horses per square mile and 800 stables, Maryland has a long-standing history with the horse industry. Since 1873, it has been the home of the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The state now also hosts the Maryland 5 Star , one of only seven 5-Star events worldwide.  The horse industry generates more than $2 B in economic impact in the state and supports 28,000 industry jobs.  If you want to know about the farms for sale in Montgomery County MD, just click here. 

If you are wondering what to do this weekend, you might take a trip to Baltimore and go to the Preakness, Maryland’s very own part of the Triple Crown.

History of the Preakness in Maryland

The first Preakness Stakes was held for the first time on May 27, 1873, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, just two years after the Kentucky Derby.  Pimilico is located in the Park Heights neighborhood on the north side of Baltimore.  easily accessed from I-95. It is one of the oldest racetracks in the country and has been the home to the Preakness since its inception.

The race was named after a colt named Preakness, who won the Dinner Party Stakes (now known as the Dixie Stakes) at Pimlico in 1870. The Preakness Stakes was initially a four-mile race, but it was shortened to its current distance of 1 3/16 miles in 1890.

The Preakness was the first major horse race broadcast on the radio – in 1917.

The race has been held continuously at Pimlico since its inception, except for a few years during World War I and World War II, when it was moved to other locations around the country.

Many famous horses have won the Preakness, including Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, American Pharoah, and Justify.  The course record is still held by Secretariat.   Just as an aside, the year that my son was born (1978) was the year that Affirmed won the triple crown.  No horse won the Triple Crown until 2015 when my son’s first son, Hamilton, was born that August and American Pharoah broke the drought. Then, when Ames was born in 2018, another horse, Justify, won the Triple Crown.   Since I knew that Ames was going to be a boy, I was pretty confident that Justify would win the Belmont Stakes once he had won the Derby and the Preakness!

Black Eyed Susans and the Preakness in Maryland

When a horse wins the Preakness, he receives a blanket of Black-Eyed Susans (the state flower) in the winner’s circle.  Since Black-Eyed Susans are not in season in June, the florist weaves the blanket together with yellow daisies and paints the centers black!    If you would like to celebrate the Preakness from afar, you can try a Black-Eyed Susan as you cheer your horse on to victory or ask at Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream for her Black-Eyed Susan ice cream.

The day before the Preakness is called Black-Eyed Susan Day, a celebration that includes several stakes races and other festivities.  It is a day dedicated to supporting and raising funds for breast cancer research and awareness.

The Preakness is a major event in Baltimore, drawing large crowds to the city and generating millions of dollars in economic activity. Overall, the Preakness Stakes has a rich history in Baltimore and is an important part of the city’s culture and heritage.

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