On Oct. 3, the 145thPreakness Stakes at Pimlico will be the grand finale to the 2020 Triple Crown season – all three events celebrated by fans in their homes rather than at the track, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But the altered schedule does not detract from the interest of the race, held one month ahead of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland (the Preakness has been made a Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the 2020 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic). Take a look back at these historic facts about the Preakness Stakes.
Lucky number seven. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won his sixth Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5 with Authentic, is tied for the most Preakness Stakes wins by a trainer (Silver Charm, 1997; Real Quiet, 1998; Point Given, 2001; War Emblem, 2002; Lookin At Lucky, 2010; American Pharoah, 2015; and Justify, 2018). His fellow record-holder is 1970 Hall of Fame inductee, R. Wyndham Walden. Based in Maryland at his own Bowling Brook Farm, Walden’s winners were Tom Olchitree, 1875; Duke of Magenta, 1878; Harold, 1879; Grenada, 1880; Saunterer, 1881; Vanguard, 1882; and Refund, 1888.
Calumet Farm’s legacy. Historic Calumet Farm, during its era of ownership by Warren Wright, Sr. and his wife Lucille Parker Wright, is the leading breeder and owner of Preakness Stakes winners, again with seven (Whirlaway,1941; Pensive, 1944; Faultless, 1947; Citation, 1948; Fabius, 1956; Tim Tam, 1958; and Forward Pass, 1968). Oxbow, winner of the 2013 Preakness, was also campaigned by Calumet Farm but under the ownership of Brad M. Kelley.
Distance. While the distance of the Preakness has been 1 3/16-miles since 1925, its distance was altered many times in its early years. The inaugural Preakness in 1873 was 1 ½ miles, and was conducted over one mile in 1909 and 1910.
New York Years. While Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland has long been home to the Preakness, research by a former Pimlico publicist name David Woods revealed that the race’s history also includes New York. Prompted by a tip from a source, he searched through old racing journals and newspapers and found that in 1890 the Preakness was held at Morris Park, a racetrack in Manhattan, and from 1894 to 1908 at Gravesend Race Track in Brooklyn. Read more in “The ‘lost’ Preaknesses.”
No Preakness. Records show that there was no Preakness Stakes from 1891 through 1893.
Fillies in the Preakness. In the 144-year history of the Preakness Stakes, only five fillies have won the event: Flocarline, 1903; Whimsical, 1906; Rhine Maiden, 1915; Nellie Morse, 1924; and then an 85-year gap before eventual Horse of the Year and Hall of Fame filly Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
Names that start with ‘S’. Fourteen Preakness winners had names that start with the letter ‘S’. These include the very first winner, Survivor (1873), Triple Crown winners Sir Barton (1919), Secretariat (1973), and Seattle Slew (1977), and Smarty Jones (2004) who holds the record for the greatest winning margin of 11 ½ lengths. Another famous ‘S,’ Sunday Silence, is the most recent Preakness winner to prevail by the slimmest of recorded margins, a nose. He defeated Easy Goer in their classic 1989 rivalry by a nose; five other previous Preakness winners won by that margin.