After a dramatic edition of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve, all eyes now turn to the second jewel of the Triple Crown: the Preakness Stakes. First run in 1873, the 144th edition of the race is this Saturday at Pimlico in Baltimore, and though it doesn’t feature the Derby winner it will have no shortage of excitement with 12 horses expected to square off.
Read on for 12 fun facts about the race.
1. This year is the first time since 1996 that the Derby winner won’t be running in the Preakness. Country House came down with a cough last week. In 1996, Grindstone sustained an injury winning the Derby and was retired.
2. The silver Preakness trophy is the most valuable in sports, according to the Preakness media guide. The Woodlawn Vase, as it’s known, was created by Tiffany and Co. in 1860 and was appraised at $1 million back in 1983.
3. Favorites strike at a 51 percent rate in the Preakness, having won 73 of 143 editions (the race was run in two divisions in 1918). No horse has won the race at odds longer than Master Derby at 23-1 in 1975.
4. Eight winners were bred in the Preakness’s home state of Maryland, though Deputed Testamony was the last in 1983. This year Maryland-bred Alwaysmining will attempt to join that list.
5. The Preakness hasn’t always been run after the Kentucky Derby. On 11 occasions it was run prior to the Derby, and on 11 occasions the Belmont was run prior to the Preakness. The current order has been in place since 1931.
6. A maiden (horse who has never won a race) hasn’t won the Preakness since 1888, though it has happened six times. This year Bodexpress will try to earn his first career win in the race.
8. Since 1925 the race has been contested at 1 3/16 miles, a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the Kentucky Derby. In previous years it was staged at six other distances ranging from one mile to 1 ½ miles.
9. Rarely is the Preakness won by a horse who didn’t race in the Derby. It has only happened four times in the last 29 years, though it did happen in 2017 with Cloud Computing. This year’s field is only expected to include four Derby runners: fourth-place finisher Improbable, seventh-place finisher War of Will, ninth-place finisher Win Win Win, and 13th-place finisher Bodexpress.
10. The first Preakness carried a purse of $2,050. This year’s purse? $1.5 million, with 60 percent of that reserved for the winner.
11. Six of the last seven Preakness winners completed their winter prep races in either California or Arkansas: Justify (California, 2018), Exaggerator (California, 2016), American Pharoah (Arkansas, 2015), California Chrome (California, 2014), Oxbow (Louisiana and Arkansas, 2013), and I’ll Have Another (California, 2012).
12. No horse has won the Preakness by a larger margin than Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones, who captured the race by 11 ½ lengths in 2004 before coming up short in the Belmont Stakes three weeks later.