Mad About Preak­ness!

Horses, hats and his­tory—the sec­ond leg of rac­ing’s Triple Crown crosses a mile­stone at 140 years.

Where Baltimore - - CONTENTS - BY ANNE KIM-DANNIBALE

140 YEARS OF PLAY­ING THE PONIES AT HIS­TORIC PIM­LICO

It all be­gan in­no­cently enough. At an 1868 din­ner a group of wealthy horse­men, in­clud­ing Mary­land’s gover­nor Oden Bowie, thought it would be a cap­i­tal idea to hold a stakes race com­mem­o­rat­ing the evening’s fes­tiv­i­ties. Things be­came se­ri­ous when Bowie sug­gested the then-hefty sum of $15,000 and vowed to con­struct a track in Mary­land to host the in­au­gu­ral “Din­ner Party Stakes.” Two years later, Pim­lico was born and the bay colt Preak­ness be­came the first to cross the fin­ish line, prompt­ing the gover­nor to re­name the race in the horse’s honor.

Now, the 1 3/16th-mile con­test draws more than 100,000 fans par­tak­ing in a week of ac­tiv­i­ties. From May 9 to 16 this year, equine en­thu­si­asts tour sta­bles at sun­rise, gos­sip with jock­eys over break­fast and groove to rol­lick­ing con­certs in the in­field. The day of the race, men in tweed and women in frilly hats cheer their odds-on fa­vorites to win the his­toric Wood­lawn tro­phy (the orig­i­nal at Bal­ti­more’s Mu­seum of Art), $1 mil­lion purse, and ul­ti­mately, rac­ing’s top prize, the Triple Crown.— Anne Kim-Dannibale

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