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The Preakness Stakes History and Information

Preakness Stakes

In the land of crab cakes and Black-Eyed Susans, the Preakness Stakes provides the middle jewel of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown. Each third Saturday in May, the eyes of the racing world shift from the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Kentucky to the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, largely to see if the Kentucky Derby winner can continue on its quest for the Triple Crown. Simultaneously, fantasy racing fans are fiercely competing with the hopes of obtaining a starting position with their virtual horse in the second leg of our virtual Triple Crown event, after competing in the first leg, the Kentucky Derby. The only difference is, these owners didn't pay tens of thousands of dollars, or even millions of dollars, for their champion Thoroughbred horse. They might have gotten their Thoroughbred for free, just like you can when you sign up to play the most popular race horse game on the Internet. Join the hundreds of thousands of active members competing for real stakes and prizes. Sign up and join right now - our racing games are free!

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It seems only fitting that the Preakness Stakes takes place in Maryland. Few racing states in this country can match the historical significance of the Free State. Thoroughbreds have been bred and raced in Maryland since the early 1700's. In fact, the Maryland Jockey Club - which operates Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park Race Course - was founded in 1743, making it the longest standing organization in the state.

Pimlico Race Course

The inaugural Preakness Stakes was held during Pimlico's first-ever spring meet in 1873, which makes it two years older than the famed Kentucky Derby, the first jewel of the Triple Crown. It is contested over the Pimlico Race Course dirt track at a distance of 1 3/16-miles, making it a 1/16th of a mile shorter than the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby held at Churchill Downs. Both races are a 'must win' for any Thoroughbred horse trying to become a Triple Crown winner.

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In the lead-up to the Preakness Stakes, the Kentucky Derby winning Thoroughbred merits the lion's share of attention and scrutiny. In a tradition unique to the Preakness Stakes, all Thoroughbred race horses competing in the second leg of the Triple Crown are stabled in the same barn, the historic Stakes barn at Pimlico Race Course, with the Kentucky Derby winner getting Stall No. 1. During morning training hours, the Stakes barn is buzzing with activity as well as a swarm of horse racing and sports media reporters ready to disseminate any information associated with this exciting sport and the a potential Triple Crown winner.

The Kentucky Derby winners' arrival at Pimlico Race Course from Churchill Downs in Kentucky, which is typically covered by local news stations, helps to announce that the buildup to the Preakness Stakes has officially begun. The Thoroughbred contenders in the second leg of the Triple Crown have now become the main focus of sports enthusiasts, particularly horse racing fans, all around the country.

Laurel Park Race Course

The Preakness Stakes field, in addition to the Kentucky Derby winner, typically consists of several top Thoroughbreds who also ran from the Kentucky Derby as well along with a handful of other top 3-year-old race horses that bypassed the Derby for any number of reasons. These horses are typically referred to as the "new shooters" and push the Preakness Stakes field near its 14-horse maximum. Even if you own a virtual horse and are competing for our virtual Preakness Stakes, you'll have to beat a maximum of 13 other virtual Thoroughbred contenders.

Even with the addition of these seemingly "fresh" horses that bypassed Kentucky Derby, the Derby winner has managed to do just fine in the Preakness historically.

Since 1997, when Silver Charm, a top Thoroughbred and Triple Crown contender, began a string of three straight Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners, there have been seven colts or geldings to sweep the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. All of these horses were one step away from being a Triple Crown winner. These Thoroughbreds were all denied the final jewel and Triple Crown immortality in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes. Winning the Triple Crown is a very difficult task, one of the most difficult in sports. It's true, you may never own a world-class Thoroughbred race horse, but when competing in our exciting online horse racing world your horse might make front page news and be considered a top contender for all of our fantasy Triple Crown races. Join in the fun, breed your first horse now and start your way on the path of becoming part of horse racing history. Becoming a virtual Triple Crown winner with your virtual horse in online horse racing may be a lot easier than becoming a Triple Crown winner with a real Thoroughbred race horse.

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Kentucky Derby

In all, there have been 32 race horses to have won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but only 11 of those were able to complete the sweep of the Triple Crown and become a Triple Crown winner. Recent Triple Crown near-misses have also included the Kentucky Derby-Preakness winners Big Brown (2008), Smarty Jones (2004), Funny Cide (2003), War Emblem (2002), Charismatic (1999) and Real Quiet (1998).

Of the 11 Triple Crown winners, Affirmed was the last Thoroughbred to join the exclusive club in 1978. It's noteworthy that the current stretch between Triple Crown winners is the longest in the racing history.

The first-ever Triple Crown winner was Sir Barton in 1919. He was followed by Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973) and Seattle Slew (1977).

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Interestingly, to better illustrate Maryland's strong racing heritage, two of those Triple Crown winners - Gallant Fox and Omaha - were bred and owned by the legendary Maryland Thoroughbred farm Belair Stud.

Much like the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course is an event overflowing with history and tradition. The horse race itself is also known as the "The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans" in reference to the blanket of black-and-gold Black-Eyed Susans that are wrapped around the winner following the race. Black-Eyed Susans are the state flower of Maryland.

Thoroughbred winner

Undoubtedly, the most valuable prize awarded to the Thoroughbred winner - at least symbolically - is the Woodlawn Vase. Considered the most expensive trophy in all of sports, the Woodlawn Vase was created by Tiffany & Co. in 1860. It stands three-feet tall, weighs in at 30 pounds, and its current value has been estimated at more than $4 million.

The Woodlawn Vase was first presented to the winning owner following the 1917 Preakness Stakes. Up until 1953, the winning owner was allowed to possess the trophy for the next year. However, when Native Dancer won the 1953 Preakness, owners Alfred and Jeanne Vanderbilt II declined to accept the trophy because of its value and historical significance.

Now, the Woodlawn Vase is held at the Baltimore Museum of Art, but is brought out each year for the Preakness under the watchful eye of the Maryland Army National Guard. The winning owners are now given a one-third size replica of the Woodlawn Vase, which is valued at around $40,000.

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Woodlawn Vase

In addition to the Woodlawn Vase and the winner's share of the $1 million purse, the winning owners are also honored in another way that's unique to the Preakness. A weather vane that sits high in the Pimlico infield, shaped as a horse and jockey, is painted the colors of the winning' owners silks immediately after the race has been ruled official.

After two weeks of buildup between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, anticipation for the Preakness reaches its zenith in another tradition that's unique to the race. During the post parade of Preakness contenders, the U.S. Naval Academy Glee Club leads the on-track throng in the singing of "Maryland, My Maryland," the official song of the state.

Attendance at the Preakness Stakes topped out at record of 121,263 in 2007. However, that number has been down slightly since then, which is largely the result of a change in policy in 2008. Prior to that year, attendees were allowed to bring in their own alcoholic beverages to the Pimlico infield, a tradition that became a particular favorite of college students up and down the Eastern seaboard.

In 2011, a crowd of 107,3978 attended the Preakness, which was the sixth most in the events history. There was $76 million wagered on the race, which was the seventh-most in Preakness history.

In the 136 previous runnings of the Preakness Stakes, there have been a raft of notable achievements by both human and equine athlete. Smarty Jones, winner of the 2004 Preakness, holds the record for largest margin of victory for his tour de force performance that resulted in an 11 1/2-length victory.

Preakness jockeys

Three horses own the record for fastest running of the Preakness Stakes. Tank's Prospect (1985), Louis Quatorze (1996) and Curlin (2007), each completed the 1 3/16-mile Preakness in 1:53 2/5.

The legendary Eddie Arcaro leads all Preakness jockeys in number of victories with six. The Hall of Fame riders' Preakness wins came between 1941-1957 and included two Triple Crown winners - Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948).

R. Wyndham Walden has the most wins among trainers with seven, all of which came in the 19th century. Two trainers that are still active-D. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert - are tied for second on the list with five Preakness wins apiece.

Historic Calumet Farm, which is still an active racing and breeding operation in Kentucky, leads all owners in Preakness wins. Calumet, which was considered the New York Yankees of Thoroughbred racing in the middle of the 20th century, won seven Preakness Stakes from 1941 to 1968, including with Triple Crown winners Whirlaway and Citation.

The Preakness Stakes may be the most important leg of horse racing's Triple Crown series. You cannot become a Triple Crown winner unless you cross the finish line first on that third Saturday in May at Pimlico Race Course. Just like horse racing's most-recognized racing series, we, too, offer a Triple Crown racing program replicating the same racing conditions contested by some of the best Thoroughbred race horses in the world, but we do it in an online horse racing virtual world. Join in the fun, breed, train and navigate the Thoroughbreds in your barn to receive top racing honors, awards, prizes and potentially win our Triple Crown racing series.

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