The custom blazers, fancy dresses and hats. (Oh, those hats!) Sure, the fashion at The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs transcends horse racing in many ways, but there’s no denying that “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” remains the most prestigious horse race of them all.
That being said, the second leg of the Triple Crown is entrenched in rich history as well. But if you were asked where The Preakness Stakes is held annually, would you immediately know the answer? Casual and even serious horse racing fans might be left scratching their heads after that question.
Well, the 143rd running of The Preakness Stakes will take place at the same location that it has been held for over a century on the third Saturday of May — the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. There, eight horses will be vying for a $1.5 million purse this Saturday (May 19), with coverage beginning at 5 p.m. EST on NBC.
Second in horse-racing attendance to only The Kentucky Derby, the 2017 Preakness set an all-time record with 140,327 fans in attendance at Pimlico with wagers coming in at upwards of $96 million, according to Preakness.com. That’s in comparison to The Kentucky Derby’s 2017 crowd of 158,070 fans and wagers totaling more than $209 million, as reported by the Louisville Courier Journal. (This year’s Derby reportedly drew 157,813 fans at Churchill Downs).
Like the Derby, The Preakness is laced in its own rich history. According to The Baltimore Sun, the Preakness is actually two years older than The Kentucky Derby with its first running having taken place in May 1873. Maryland’s then-governor, Oden Bowie, dubbed the then-1.5-mile race after a horse named Preakness, who won Pimlico’s opening race, the Dinner Party Stakes, in 1870. Since then, the “Middle Jewel” of horse racing’s Triple Crown has had a race distance of under one and a half miles.
The Preakness’s trophy, the Woodlawn Vase, was assessed in 1983 at $1 million, making it the most valuable trophy in American sports, according to the event’s website. A recent NBC reportsays its estimated worth today is $4 million. The trophy, which is annually ushered to Pimlico under heavy security detail, was created by Tiffany & Co. in 1860.
Also like the Derby, the Preakness has built a series of events around its actual race to enhance the experience. This year’s events include the 10th annual Budweiser Infieldfest, which will feature appearances by artists such as Post Malone and 21 Savage.
If Justify can follow up its rainy, muddy Kentucky Derby winon May 5 with a Preakness victory on Saturday, then it will take one giant step towards the dream for the elusive Triple Crown, which only 12 horses have won in the sport’s history.
As of Wednesday afternoon, according to OddsShark, odds for Justify to pull off a victory in the Preakness’s eight-horse field are listed as -200 with a $200 bet earning you $100, followed by Good Magic at +450 with a $100 bet getting you $450.
Will Justify be the first horse to cross the finish line Saturday at the Preakness or will another contender pull off the upset and dash its Triple Crown hopes?