The Preakness is the bridge to Triple Crown

May 15, 2012 3:00 AM

 

Two weeks after the KentuckyDerby we are replacing Roses with Black Eyed Susans and hearing a rendition of “Maryland My Maryland” instead of “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The Preakness is the bridge between the Derby and the Belmont, and only one horse is eligible to win the Triple Crown. This year it happens to be I’ll Have Another.

The race is run annually during the third week in May at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course and ranks second to the Derby in North America for attendance. At a mile and 3/16 it’s shorter than the 1¼ mile Derby, which often favors the speed horses.

The traditional second leg of the Triple Crown was actually first contested in 1873, two years before the inaugural Kentucky Derby. The first Preakness race was at a distance of 1½ miles, the current Belmont length.

Survivor won that 1873 Preakness by 10 lengths and received first place money of $2,050. That margin of victory stood for 131 years until Smarty Jones won in 2004 by 11½ lengths. Last year’s winner, Shackleford, received a record $1.55 million.

It may surprise you to know Pimlico was not always the site of the Preakness. In 1890 the race was held at Morris Park Racecourse in Bronx, N.Y. Then after a three-year hiatus, the Preakness was contested from 1894-1908 in Coney Island, N.Y., at Gravesend Race Track.

 The Preakness went back to Pimlico in 1909 and has remained there ever since. It officially settled into the second slot of the Triple Crown in 1932. The Preakness had preceded the Derby 11 times and twice (1917 and 1922) was run on the same day.

In 1918, 26 horses entered the race which was run in two divisions. Now the field is limited to 14. CBS brought the Preakness to live television in 1948.

The great Secretariat won the Preakness in 1973 on the way to a memorable Triple Crown, but victory was controversial in terms of track record. The timer malfunctioned, stopping the clock at 1:55. Pimlico’s clocker had it 1:54 2/5.

The Daily Racing Form lists it at 1:53 2/5, which would be the track record. That mark was later equaled by Tank’s Prospect (1985), Louis Quatorze (1996) and Curlin (2007).

Only five fillies in 136 races have won the Preakness, the last being Rachel Alexandra in 2009. Rachel was the only horse to ever win from the 13 post. Kent Desormeaux is the only jockey to have won two Preakness races since 1998. He won aboard Real Quiet that year and again on Big Brown in 2008.

The biggest upset: Master Derby in 1975 at 23-1. He went on to finish third in the Belmont.

Here are some of the more famous Preakness winners not previously mentioned:

2003: Funny Cide; 1999: Charismatic; 1989: Sunday Silence; 1987: Aysheba; 1979: Spectacular Bid; 1978: Affirmed; 1977: Seattle Slew; 1971: Canonero II; 1969: Majestic Prince; 1967: Damascus; 1964: Northern Dancer;

1961: Carry Back; 1958: Tim Tam; 1957: Bold Ruler; 1953: Native Dancer; 1948: Citation; 1943: Count Fleet; 1941: Whirlaway; 1937: War Admiral; 1930: Gallant Fox; 1920: Man o’ War; 1919: Sir Barton.

Perhaps the most tragic Preakness occurred in 2006 when Kentucky Derby champ Barbaro broke down in the first 100 yards and was later euthanized in January 2007.

Preakness facts:

Most wins by a jockey:

6 – Eddie Arcaro (1941, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1955, 1957)

5 – Pat Day (1985, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1996)

3 – George Barbee (1873, 1876, 1883)

3 – Bill Hartack (1956, 1964, 1969)

3 – Lloyd Hughes (1875, 1879, 1880)

Most wins by a trainer:

7 – R. Wyndham Walden (1875, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1888)

5 – Thomas J. Healey (1901, 1922, 1923, 1926, 1929)

5 – D. Wayne Lukas (1980, 1985, 1994, 1995, 1999)

5 – Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2010)

4 – Jim Fitzsimmons (1930, 1935, 1955, 1957)

4 – Jimmy Jones (1947, 1948, 1956, 1958)

3 – John Whalen (1907, 1911, 1913)

Margin of Victory

11½ lengths – Smarty Jones (2004)

10 lengths – Survivor (1873)

9 3/4 lengths – Funny Cide (2003)

8 lengths – Count Fleet (1943)