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Last updated September 17, 2020

History of the Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes was introduced in 1873 when Pimlico Racecourse held its first spring meet. The race has since become one of the most important in American Thoroughbred Racing and is the second leg of the American Triple Crown. It is also known as the “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans”.

Survivor won the first ever Preakness Stakes in 1873 when he dusted his rivals by a 10 lengths. That win stood as the greatest margin of victory for well over a century, before the record was shattered by Smarty Jones in 2004 when he smoked the field by 11 ½ lengths.

Not so surprisingly, Secretariat owns the fastest time in the Preakness Stakes. As arguably the greatest racehorse of all time, Secretariat completed the 1 3/16th miles in an astounding time of 1:53.00. This winning time was actually awarded to Secretariat retroactively in 2012 when a timer malfunction was recalibrated.

A horse many experts consider the best of the 20th century, Man o’ War, captured the 1920 Preakness in his season debut after bypassing the Kentucky Derby. The once-beaten “Big Red” was followed a half-century later by another colt who shared that nickname: Secretariat (1973).

In addition to the 12 Triple Crown winners, the Preakness has been won by 23 other winners of the Kentucky Derby.

Fillies have won the Preakness five times, with Rachel Alexandra the most recent after she snapped an 85-year drought in 2009.

The connections of the Preakness winner are awarded replicas of the Woodlawn Vase. Designed by Tiffany and Company in 1860.

The 144th Preakness Stakes will run on Saturday, May 18th, 2019 and will once again cover 1 3/16th miles. It has covered this distance since 1925. After various changes in distance and date, the Preakness has been run at 1 3/16 miles since 1925 and its placement on the third Saturday in May firmly established since the 1950s.

The Preakness Stakes has been run at seven different distances throughout its history. In the modern era, it remains the shortest of the three legs in the Triple Crown series.

1 ½ Miles (1873-1888, 1890)
1 ¼ Miles (1889)
1 1/16 Miles  (1894-1900, 1908)
1 mile 70 yards (1901-1907)
1 1/8 Miles (1911-1924)
1 3/16 Miles (1925-present)

Due to various factors, such as size and composition of the field, the Preakness has rarely fallen prey to extreme longshots. The highest-priced winner in the race’s history, Master Derby (1975), returned only $48.80. The second highest-priced winner was Coventry, who paid $45.60 in 1925.

Pari-mutuel wagering on the Preakness has been offered for more than a century. As of 2015, 72 betting favorites have won the race, with Citation (1948) and Spectacular Bid (1979) the shortest-priced winners paying $2.20. The Preakness is typically the second or third most-wagered on race in the country. 

On-track crowds, in excess of 100,000. are common for the Preakness. The race tends to attract television ratings that are second only to the Kentucky Derby in volume (except when a Triple Crown is on the line in the Belmont Stakes) for an individual race in the US. A record crowd of 131,680 witnessed American Pharoah capture the 2015 Preakness en route to his Triple Crown sweep.

Though the Preakness Stakes is the crown jewel of Maryland’s Thoroughbred culture, the race also has strong ties to New York and New Jersey. In fact, the race is named after “Preakness”, a colt from New Jersey who grew up in an area of the state that shares that name as well. The Preakness Stakes was also run at Morris Park Racecourse (1890) in the Bronx and at the Gravesand Race Track (1894-1908) on Coney Island, both located in New York State. All other renewals have taken place at Pimlico in Maryland.

Wagering on the Preakness Stakes has been bolstered routinely by the momentum created by the Kentucky Derby. In 2016, when Exaggerator upset Nyquist to win the Preakness, the race set records in attendance and handle. Despite subpar weather there were 135,256 fans in the stands for the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes. A total of $94,127,434 was wagered during the 14-race program.

The next running of the Preakness Stakes is Saturday, May 20th, 2017.

The Triple Crown

There have been only been 12 horses to have claimed the Triple Crown. Since 1932, the Triple Crown has been run in the order we know today: Kentucky Derby, followed by Preakness Stakes and then the Belmont Stakes. Prior to that, there wasn’t a formally established schedule.

The first winner of the Triple Crown was Sir Barton in 1919 largely because the series itself wasn’t an organized event until 1913. The most recent are Affirmed (1978) and American Pharoah (2015).

An additional 23 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, but come up short at the Belmont Stakes. Some of the most notable horses to do so are Northern Dance (1964), Spectacular Bid (1979), Alysheba (1987), Sunday Silence (1989(, Silver charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998), Charismatic (1999), Smarty Jones (2004), I’ll Have Another (2012) and California Chrome (2014).

Preakness Stakes Winners & Records

The winningest jockey in Preakness Stakes history is Eddie Arcaro who also holds the records at the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes as well. Gary Stevens, Victor Espinoza and Kent Desormeaux all have the most wins amongst active jockeys with three apiece.

New York legend and Hall of Famer Robert Wyndham Walden, who led seven horses to victory during the late 19th century. He is trailed by Bob Baffert and D Wayne Lukas, who are active today and own six wins between the two of them. Calumet Farm is both the leading owner and breeder with 7 wins in the Preakness Stakes, dating back as early as 1941 and as recently as 2013.

Five fillies have also claimed victory at the Preakness Stakes. Four horses did so in the first quarter of the 20th century: Flocarline (1903), Whimsical (1906), Rhine Maiden (1915) and Nellie Morse (1924). The feat would not be recreated for another 85 years until Rachel Alexandra did so at the 2009 Preakness Stakes.

The speed record for the Preakness Stakes is held by Secretariat, who ran an astonishing 1:53.00 in 1973. This was highly contested at the time due to contradicting clockers and video evidence, who compared him to Canonero II’s time of 1:54.00 set in 1971. Secretariat was not awarded the official record for the fastest Preakness Stakes time until 2012. The legendary champion and Triple Crown winner now holds the speed record in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

The last 13 winners of the Preakness Stakes include:

2007 Preakness Stakes – Curlin
Curlin defeated Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense as the second choice, followed by Hard Spun. Later in the year, Curlin would win the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is now one of the leading sires in the country.

2008 Preakness Stakes – Big Brown
During the 2008 Triple Crown campaign, Big Brown seemed like perfection. He won the Kentucky Derby easily and dominated the Preakness Stakes before coming up rank in the Belmont Stakes for reasons that nobody has really ascertained. He is still a beloved champion, having finished his career with a record of 7-0-0 in eight starts. His Belmont performance produced a DNF, and is the one glaring loss on his otherwise sterling record.

2009 Preakness Stakes – Rachel Alexandra
This race was unique in that it featured a duel between the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner and the 2009 Kentucky Oaks winner. Mine That Bird fell to Rachel Alexandra in a stunning upset. Rachel Alexandra is the only filly to win the Preakness Stakes in modern times. There are four others that accomplished this feat, the most recent prior to Rachel Alexandra being Nellie Morse in 1924.

2010 Preakness Stakes – Lookin at Lucky
This was a two-horse race at the start with Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver leading as a 5-2 preference over Lookin at Lucky, who earned 3-1 odds of his own. After finishing sixth at the derby, ‘Lucky’ would earn the win but did not run in the Belmont.

2011 Preakness Stakes – Shakelford
Shackleford is one of the biggest longshots to win the race in recent memory. A frontrunner by trade, he trailed to fourth at the Kentucky Derby but earned the win in the Preakness as a 13-1 longshot. He was able to fend off Animal Kingdom for the win.

2012 Preakness Stakes – I’ll Have Another
I’ll Have Another was the breakout horse for trainer Doug O’Neil and was one of the first of horses in a long time to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown. He eventually had to withdraw from the Belmont Stakes due to injury, but earned wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes to cement his legacy.

2013 Preakness Stakes  – Oxbow
Oxbow snuck up on everyone in the 2013 Preakness Stakes after finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby, which was won by Orb. Going off as a 15-1 longshot, Oxbow is the biggest longshot to win in a decade. He would finish second at the Belmont Stakes and fourth at the Haskell before retiring.

2014 Preakness Stakes – California Chrome
California Chrome is largely credited as the horse that reinvigorated mainstream interest in the sport. After winning the Kentucky Derby in rousing fashion, the colt ran to victory in the Preakness Stakes. His Triple Crown bid fell unfortunately short at the Belmont Stakes as he trailed to 4th. He has since been retired as one of the greatest ever.

2015 Preakness Stakes – American Pharoah
By now you should know that American Pharoah won the 2015 Triple Crown and went on to become the first Grand Slam Champion in history by also claiming the Breeders’ Cup Classic later that year.

2016 Preakness Stakes – Exaggerator
After narrowly losing to Nyquist at the Kentucky Derby, Exaggerator seized the moment on a muddy day at Pimlico Racecourse to win the 2016 Preakness Stakes in front of a record crowd.

2017 Preakness Stakes – Cloud Computing

2018 Preakness Stakes – Justify

2019 Preakness Stakes – War of Will

Preakness Stakes Winners Race History

2019 War of Will1-3/161:54.34
2017Cloud Computing1-3/161:55.98
2015American Pharoah*1-3/161:58.46
2014California Chrome1-3/161:54.84
2012I’ll Have Another1-3/161:55.94
2010Lookin At Lucky1-3/161:55.47
2009Rachel Alexandra**1-3/161:55.08
2008Big Brown1-3/161:54.86
2005Afleet Alex1-3/161:55.04
2004Smarty Jones1-3/161:55.59
2003Funny Cide1-3/161:55.61
2002War Emblem1-3/161:56.40
2001Point Given1-3/161:55.40
2000Red Bullet1-3/161:56.00
1998Real Quiet1-3/161:54.60
1997Silver Charm1-3/161:54.80
1996Louis Quatorze1-3/161:53.40
1995Timber Country1-3/161:54.40
1994Tabasco Cat1-3/161:56.40
1993Prairie Bayou1-3/161:56.60
1992Pine Bluff1-3/161:55.60
1990Summer Squall1-3/161:53.60
1989Sunday Silence1-3/161:53.80
1988Risen Star1-3/161:56.20
1986Snow Chief1-3/161:54.80
1985Tank’s Prospect1-3/161:53.40
1984Gate Dancer1-3/161:53.60
1983Deputed Testamony1-3/161:55.40
1982Aloma’s Ruler1-3/161:55.40
1981Pleasant Colony1-3/161:54.60
1979Spectacular Bid1-3/161:54.20
1977Seattle Slew*1-3/161:54.40
1975Master Derby1-3/161:56.40
1974Little Current1-3/161:54.60
1972Bee Bee Bee1-3/161:55.60
1971Canonero II1-3/161:54.00
1969Majestic Prince1-3/161:55.60
1968Forward Pass1-3/161:56.80
1966Kauai King1-3/161:55.40
1965Tom Rolfe1-3/161:56.20
1964Northern Dancer1-3/161:56.80
1963Candy Spots1-3/161:56.20
1962Greek Money1-3/161:56.20
1961Carry Back1-3/161:57.60
1960Bally Ache1-3/161:57.60
1959Royal Orbit1-3/161:57.00
1958Tim Tam1-3/161:57.20
1957Bold Ruler1-3/161:56.20
1954Hasty Road1-3/161:57.40
1953Native Dancer1-3/161:57.80
1952Blue Man1-3/161:57.40
1950Hill Prince1-3/161:59.20
1943Count Fleet*1-3/161:57.40
1937War Admiral*1-3/161:58.40
1936Bold Venture1-3/161:59.00
1934High Quest1-3/161:58.20
1933Head Play1-3/162:02.00
1932Burgoo King1-3/161:59.80
1930Gallant Fox*1-3/162:00.60
1929Dr. Freeland1-3/162:01.60
1924Nellie Morse** 1 1⁄81:57.20
1923Vigil 1 1⁄81:53.60
1922Pillory 1 1⁄81:51.60
1921Broomspun 1 1⁄81:54.20
1920Man o’ War 1 1⁄81:51.60
1919Sir Barton* 1 1⁄81:53.00
1918War Cloud 1 1⁄81:53.60
1918Jack Hare, Jr. 1 1⁄81:53.40
1917Kalitan 1 1⁄81:54.40
1916Damrosch 1 1⁄81:54.80
1915Rhine Maiden** 1 1⁄81:58.00
1914Holiday 1 1⁄81:53.80
1913Buskin 1 1⁄81:53.40
1912Colonel Holloway 1 1⁄81:56.60
1911Watervale 1 1⁄81:51.00
1910Layminster1 mile1:40.60
1909Effendi1 mile1:39.80
1908Royal Tourist1-1/161:46.40
1907Don Enrique1-1/161:45.40
1904Bryn Mawr1-1/161:44.20
1902Old England1-1/161:45.80
1901The Parader1-1/161:47.20
1899Half Time1-1/161:47.00
1898Sly Fox1-1/161:49.75
1897Paul Kauvar1-1/161:51.25
1893No Raceno race0:00.00
1892No Raceno race0:00.00
1891No Raceno race0:00.00
1890Montague 1 1⁄22:36.75
1889Buddhist 1 1⁄42:17.50
1888Refund 1 1⁄22:49.00
1887Dunboyne 1 1⁄22:39.50
1886The Bard 1 1⁄22:45.00
1885Tecumseh 1 1⁄22:49.00
1884Knight of Ellerslie 1 1⁄22:39.50
1883Jacobus 1 1⁄22:42.50
1882Vanguard 1 1⁄22:44.50
1881Saunterer 1 1⁄22:40.50
1880Grenada 1 1⁄22:40.50
1879Harold 1 1⁄22:40.50
1878Duke of Magenta 1 1⁄22:41.75
1877Cloverbrook 1 1⁄22:45.50
1876Shirley 1 1⁄22:44.75
1875Tom Ochiltree 1 1⁄22:43.50
1874Culpepper 1 1⁄22:56.50
1873Survivor 1 1⁄22:43.00

* Triple Crown Winner
** Filly