The Preakness Stakes is one of the single biggest races in the US and forms part of the illustrious Triple Crown.

Scheduled to run two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks before the Belmont Stakes, with $2,000,000 up for grabs, it is held annually at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.

Run over a distance of 1+3⁄16 miles (1.9 kilometres), it has been held annually since its inception in 1873.

The race is named after the colt Preakness, who won the Dinner Party Stakes on the day Pimlico opened (October 25, 1870). Since then, many incredible horses have taken their chances, with a few, such as Secretariat, becoming household names.

So just who will etch their name into the history books in 2024 and win the Preakness Stakes on May 18th?

For those of you who are familiar with betting on horse racing online, the list of entries will be revealed closer to the race date.

The Race Itself

Not just any horse can run in the Preakness Stakes. Eligibility is reserved for three-year-old thoroughbreds, and entries are determined by earnings in graded stakes races, ensuring that only the best of the best line up at the starting gate.

This qualification process underscores the race’s elite status, attracting top talent from across the nation and around the world.

The 2023 winner was the Bob Baffert trained National Treasure who also went on to win The Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in 2024.

As mentioned above, the Preakness is run over a distance of 1 3/16 miles, which is a shorter distance compared to the Belmont Stakes. That, in turn, means it requires a perfect balance of quick pacing and reserved energy, challenging jockeys to execute their strategies flawlessly.

History and Evolution

With over 150 of history and heritage, the race has under gone plenty of changes since the Maryland Governor Oden Bowie created the race, naming it after the first horse to win a race at Pimlico Race Course, Preakness.

The very first race went off with seven runners, with Survivor clinching victory by an astounding 10 lengths, a winning margin that remained a record for over a century.

Over the years, the Preakness Stakes changed other aspects of its format including distance, location, and alterations in its place within the Triple Crown lineup.

It was originally run at 1 1/2 miles, but was changed in 1925 to the current distance, aligning it more closely with the other Triple Crown races and emphasising speed and stamina.

It has even moved home on a couple of occasions. The first was when it was held at Morris Park Racecourse in the Bronx, New York, due to anti-gambling legislation in Maryland.

However, it returned to Pimlico Race Course in 1909 and has remained ever since except for a brief period during World War II when travel restrictions necessitated the temporary relocation of the race to Belmont Park.

The Horses That Made History

Extraordinary horses have graced Pimlico over the decades, and it is simply impossible to write about the Preakness Stakes without mentioning Secretariat’s breathtaking performance in 1973, where he shattered the race record en route to claiming the Triple Crown.

His incredible speed and indomitable spirit left spectators in awe, setting the bar for racing excellence.

Another unforgettable race occurred in 2007 when Curlin edged out Street Sense in a thrilling photo finish. The intense battle over the final furlongs exemplified the drama and unpredictability of the Preakness.

More recently, American Pharoah and Justify, both of whom captured the Triple Crown, cemented their places in racing history. Each of these champions demonstrated exceptional talent and heart, embodying the spirit of the Preakness Stakes.

The Impact On Baltimore

There are some huge races around the world and almost all of them contribute significantly to the economy of the town they are held in. The Preakness Stakes and its impact on Baltimore is no different.

Economically, it generates significant revenue for the region, drawing tourists and racing enthusiasts to the city each year.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Preakness generates about $52.7 million in economic activity each year. This is generated through visitor spending on hotels, food, and transportation as well as event operations which leads to spending and hiring, injecting money into the local economy.

Then, of course, there is gambling revenue, a portion of which benefits the local economy directly through taxes and the sale of media and broadcasting rights.

So, while globally, the Preakness Stakes serves as a showcase of horse racing excellence, on a more local level, it is exceptionally important to the economy.

Conclusion

Beyond the incredible horses, history-making races, and economic viability, the Preakness is known for its quirky traditions and modern festivities.

The Black-Eyed Susan, the race’s official flower, symbolises the beauty and elegance of the event, while the singing of “Maryland, My Maryland” as the horses are paraded before the race evokes a deep sense of state pride and history.

The infield fest, a newer tradition, has transformed Pimlico into a festival ground on race day, featuring live music, food, and entertainment.

And of all of that wasn’t enough, there is, of course, the Woodlawn Vase, the trophy presented ot the winner.

Created in 1860 by Tiffany and Co. it is one of the oldest and most valuable trophies in American sports.

The Woodlawn Vase is made of solid sterling silver and stands about 34 inches tall and due to its historical significance and craftsmanship, is extremely valuable. In fact, it has been insured for over $1 million.

Given its value, the original trophy is kept at the Baltimore Museum of Art and brought to Pimlico Race Course for the Preakness and winners are given a smaller replica to keep, ensuring the original remains secure.