11 fun facts about the Preakness Stakes

Winslow Townson/Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The 142nd Preakness Stakes is just around the corner: Always Dreaming will take the next step toward racing immortality on May 20 at Pimlico Race Course.

Get ready for the second jewel of the Triple Crown with 11 fun facts below.

The Preakness is usually won by horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby. Just three winners in the last 27 years did not first run in the Derby.

The favorite wins the Preakness more than half of the time. In 141 editions of the race, the favorite has emerged victorious 72 times including two of the last three.

The Preakness is older than the Kentucky Derby but rarely gets credit for it. The Preakness was first run in 1873, two years before the first run for the roses. But since the Preakness wasn’t run from 1891-1893 this year is the 142nd Preakness and the 143rd Derby.

The purse of the first Preakness Stakes was $2,050. That’s just .14 percent of today’s $1.5 million purse.

The Preakness hasn’t always been two weeks after the Derby. Twice it’s been run on the same day as the Derby, and 11 times the Preakness has been run prior to the Derby. The current order and spacing hasn’t changed since 1969.

The winner is draped in a blanket of Viking poms. It’s usually called a blanket of black-eyed Susans, but since the Maryland state flower doesn’t bloom until June, the Viking poms play the part. Previously, daisies with the centers painted black were used.

Horses breaking from post position No. 6 have won the race a record 16 times. That means 15.5 percent of the 106 horses who have started in stall 6 have won, including Oxbow in 2013.

Five Preakness winners since 2000 were later named Horse of the Year, racing’s highest year-end honor: Point Given (2001), Curlin (2007), Rachel Alexandra (2009), California Chrome (2014) and American Pharoah (2015).

 

No horse sent off at odds greater than 23-1 has won the Preakness.Master Derby had the highest win payout on record, paying $48.80 for a $2 bet after going off at 23.40-1.

Baltimore’s Triple Crown race has been run in New York 16 times. In 1890 the Preakness was contested at Morris Park in the Bronx, N.Y. From 1894 to 1908, Gravesend Race Track on Coney Island, N.Y. hosted the race. It’s been held at Pimlico ever since.

Seven of the 16 Kentucky Derby winners since the turn of the century also won the Preakness. Of course, American Pharoah is the only one who completed the triple at Belmont three weeks later.

 

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