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