Pimlico Race Course History

The Preakness Stakes is named after the horse who won the first stakes race – the Dinner Party Stakes – at Pimlico Race Course in 1870. Three years later, the Preakness Stakes was run for the first time and eventually became the second leg of the American Triple Crown. The race is actually older than the Kentucky Derby and was run at several different locations before returning to Pimlico in 1909 where it found a permanent home.

Pimlico has been a major player in the evolution of American horse racing. When an anti-gambling movement swept through the country in 1910, Pimlico, along with Churchill Downs, held steady and stayed in operation. In addition to being a pioneer in pari-mutuel wagering, Pimlico introduced the electronic starting gate which ensures a fair and equal start.

In October 2019, a deal was reached that would keep Pimlico in operation rather than being sold off to be developed. Millions of dollars in renovations will be completed, with a new grandstand expected.

pimlico race course

Preakness Field and Odds

The Preakness Stakes is so popular because it has all of the crowd of the Kentucky Derby with less of the fashion and more of the party. The Preakness Field and odds are established 72 hours before the race, which will be on September 30 in 2020. Morning line odds will be available at this time.

Five fillies have won the Preakness Stakes, most recently Rachel Alexandra in 2009. That filly defeated Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird by one length as the heavy favorite.

Preakness Stakes Day is full of fanfare and festivals. There are parties and live bands performing in the infield, and the official drink – the Black-Eyed Susan – flows. Instead of being saddled in the indoor paddock, the Preakness field is saddled outside on the turf course in full view of the crowd. They parade under large yellow signs with their names on them before taking to the track for the Preakness post parade.

The best Preakness winners include Secretariat, Justify, American Pharoah, Curlin, Smarty Jones, Sunday Silence, Alysheba, and Spectacular Bid. In 2005, Afleet Alex famously nearly fell at the top of the stretch when bumped by Scrappy T, then recovered and went on to win impressively before also taking the Belmont Stakes in New York.

Check back for 2020 Preakness betting odds closer to the race.

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